Obviously we should be looking forward to all 82 games on the 2012-2013 schedule, but here are a few that stand out (in no particular order):
1) Back-to-back hatefests Oct. 16 at Montreal/Oct. 18 vs. Montreal
- Early season games often lack the fire and intensity of mid- or late-season tilts, but these two games should get the blood flowing pretty quickly. While the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry has waned a bit in recent years as hated players like Mike Komisarek, Maxim Lapierre, and Alex Kovalev have moved on, games that pit the spoked-B against the bleu, blanc et rouge always seem to have that little bit extra. Adding to the excitement will be Montreal’s third-overall pick in tomorrow’s draft, likely to be a top-flight player, a new faces in coach Michel Therrien (well, kind of new) and GM Marc Bergevin, pressure from Habs fans to make up for last season’s embarrassing campaign, and some fire left over from 2011’s ECQF series. Plus, home-and-home series almost always have a little carryover, and with the second half of this back-to-back serving as the B’s home opener, there could be some fireworks.
2) Rematch Nov. 2 at Washington
- True, the teams will play twice in the preseason, but those games will likely be filled with players from each team’s farm club. This Friday night match-up in the nation’s capital will be the first meaningful game these two sides play since Joel Ward and the Caps ended the B’s season this spring. Neither club has seen a lot of roster turnover, so the hatred built up in that series will still be fresh. A win for the B’s won’t change what happened in the playoffs, but it would definitely be something to build on.
3) Black (and gold) Friday Nov. 23 vs. New York Rangers
- The Rangers handled the B’s pretty well last year, winning three of the first four games before the B’s beat them on the last Sunday of the regular season. The Rangers will likely be among the league’s elite again next year, and the added element of a national TV audience (on NBC) should add some spice. The match-ups between these two teams featured quite a bit of malice last season, and it’s unlikely that this will be a peaceful post-Thanksgiving gathering.
4) Hey, remember last time we were here? Dec. 29 at Vancouver
- When the B’s take the ice at GM Place on the 364th (leap year, remember?) day of 2012, they’ll be far-removed from June 15, 2011. However, the Canucks likely won’t forget what happened last time these two teams met (line brawls, ejections, clipping, etc.) and they certainly won’t forget what happened last time the Bruins skated on the Canucks’ home ice. Games between these two sides will feature fireworks for years to come, and this one won’t be a exception.
5) Defending champs vs. defending defending champs Dec. 17 vs. Los Angeles
- The last two Stanley Cup winners will meet at the Garden in mid-December, with the Kings likely facing the same “hangover” questions that dogged the Bruins throughout 2011-2012. The media will have a field day with the “last two Cup winners” thing, but this game will, like the aforementioned Rangers game, a great test against an elite team, a chance for the B’s to see how they stack up against other members of the league’s top tier. Plus, the players can swap Stanley stories during intermissions. Brad Marchand and Jeff Carter will likely enjoy each other’s tales quite a bit…