Saturday, June 21, 2014

Top 5 Home Openers for 2014-15

The NHL released the scheduled dates for home openers today ahead of the full schedule release tomorrow and man are we excited. Now you get to look forward to next season as you know when the puck will actually drop and the next two weeks should be crazy enough that you might even be excited to see a new player on opening night. There are obvious duds such as Nashville hosting Ottawa and Florida hosting New Jersey, but there are some great opening night matchups that make us want to shake the NHL schedule maker's hand as we pencil those dates in on our calendars.

Here are our Top 5 home openers this upcoming season:

#5: Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs

A classic rivalry that always seems to be the official kick off to the NHL season on opening night. We're sure the Leafs will have a long ass ceremony with no mention of the late season collapse (or entire season collapse) of 2013-14 in which they lost 12 of their final 14 games, but at least there will be bagpipes. It should be an exciting game as these two forever rivals meet for the 715th time in the regular season and look to start the 2014-15 campaign on top.

#4: Colorado Avalanche @ Minnesota Wild/Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche

After a pretty fun 7-game series in which the Wild shocked Avalanche fans (but not fancy stat proponents) with a series OT winner in Colorado, the two teams will start their seasons with a home-and-home series. We like the idea of the home-and-home to start the bad blood early in the season especially if Matt Cooke is targeted for his knee on Tyson Barrie that could have been the difference maker in their playoff series. Also, Nathan MacKinnon will be playing his first NHL game as a 19-year-old to help make you feel really old and disappointed in how your life has panned out.

#3: Winnipeg Jets @ Arizona Coyotes

Finally the Phoenix Coyotes realized that their franchise is 15 miles away from the city that bears their name so like any good NHL team playing in the middle of nowhere they've adopted the name of the state (looking at you, Florida). In an ironic twist, the team they're hosting is the original home of the franchise. Both teams will be looking to bounce back after both falling short of the playoffs last year and the Yotes will be looking to start another chapter in their franchise history under a new name.

#2: Boston Bruins @ Montreal Canadiens

Another great rivalry that intensified when the Habs shocked the Bruins in 7 games during the recent Eastern Conference Semifinals. Revenge will be the theme of the night and it could be particularly nasty if Milan Lucic follows through on his threats to Alexei Emelin and Dale Weise. These two teams simply hate each other and what better way to start the season then against a bitter rival? Good thing there's no handshakes during the regular season...

#1: San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings

The NHL gamemakers went full Hunger Games here with a huge troll job of the San Jose Sharks. Oh, you blew a 3-0 series lead to the eventual Stanley Cup champs? Here's a dumptruck of salt for that wound as you get to watch them raise their Stanley Cup banner on opening night. Logan Couture might not be the same after having to watch that ceremony.

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