Well, it’s finally here. We are now less than 24 hours away from the official puck drop of the
2012-2013 season. Obviously most eyes around here will be on Bruins/Rangers, and we’ll have our official preview in the morning. But the NHL has put together a great day of match-ups, so let’s take a look at some of the other action on an exciting opening day in the NHL.
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh - 3pm – Coming off their epic playoff battle last year, one of the most anticipated games of the day is the rematch between the Flyers and Pens. They’ll have the national stage as the game will air on NBC, and the Crosby/Giroux rivalry should be fun to watch. Evgeni Malkin is fresh off an impressive KHL stint, and James Neal is poised for another good season for Pittsburgh. For Philly, they’ll hope their young core (including the recently united Schenn brothers) can continue to grow and a now Chris Pronger-less defense can step up. Goaltending is still obviously a huge question mark, but then again preventing goals wasn’t really a focus last year for either of these teams. Should be a great game to kick off the season with.
Los Angeles vs. Chicago – 3pm – In the second of three afternoon starts, the Kings begin their title defense against a tough Blackhawks squad. LA will be without Anze Kopitar who has a knee injury, and though it’s not considered serious, starting a compressed schedule without your top center could hurt. Chicago star Jonathan Toews is fighting the flu, but is expected to play, and winger Marian Hossa will play his first game since a devastating concussion suffered on a Raffi Torres hit last year. NHL.com will stream this game live.
Montreal vs. Toronto – 7pm – While no one is expecting this to be a preview of Stanley Cup contenders, renewing this Original Six rivalry should be interesting. PK Subban still hasn’t signed with the Canadiens, though 2012 draft pick and American gold medalist Alex Galchenyuk should make his debut for the Habs. James Van Riemsdyk will suit up as a Leaf for the first time, though Toronto still has serious depth issues, especially in goal. Either way, whenever these two teams go head-to-head it’s a battle, and this one should be no different.
Detroit vs. St. Louis – 8pm – This game could be a preview of top teams in the West. For St. Louis, David Backes, David Perron and Andy McDonald will lead up front, while Alex Pietrangelo and BU product Kevin Shattenkirk should continue to grow on the blue line. Everyone will also be keeping an eye on 2012 top draft pick Vladimir Tarasenko who will make his debut with the Blues. Detroit on the other hand has a largely unchanged squad, but will rely on Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to continue to carry the offense. Newly added Jordin Tootoo will be relied upon to provide some grit.
And in case you missed it, here’s Datsyuk’s ridiculous behind the back goal from the KHL to get you in the mood.