The NHL schedule was released today and that means many bloggers and media outlets will be chronicling the "best games" and all the "can't miss matchups."
We've heard all that crap before and, if you're the savvy hockey fan that I know you are, you already know which games are going to be good. The real test when it comes to organizing your winter work schedule around hockey games (I know you're already doing this.) is knowing which ones to miss. Having a solid understanding of how to do this successfully is a true art form. To try and aid you in the process, I've complied six "must miss" games this season. You know, the ones that we all know we shouldn't bother watching even though it's only July. Sometimes it's really that easy to spot a stinker from six months away.
October 21st. Thrashers @ Lightning, 7:30 PM EST. Cue the Southleast division jokes. Not only are we talking about the two worst teams from the division everyone likes to pick on (It's just so easy!) they were also the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference last season. Add to it that neither was above the league average in goals scored and, well, this will be anything but a barn burner. It will probably be a barn builder, I guess.
(Side note: Why is 'barn burner' such a popular expression? Was it really that exciting to watch a barn catch on fire back in the day? I guess that's probably all there was to do in 1820.)
November 1st. Oilers @ Hurricanes, 3 PM EST. It's a rematch of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. It's also one of the oddest matchups in the history of hockey. You've got a team with a storied history from western Canada up against a team from NASCAR country with some skeletons in the closet. Two hockey outposts on opposite sides of the continent. Even worse, the color combinations resemble the bruise I got after falling down the brick steps in the front of my house. Orange, blue, bright red and black? Yeesh. Spare me. Even the time is a bit odd. 3PM? Really?
November 1st. Panthers @ Predators, 8 PM EST. Two bad matchups in one day? November 1st is really going to be a day to avoid hockey. This matchup is what will likely be re-named and promoted as the 2008 NHL Questionable Futures Game. The situation surrounding the Preds and their ownership has been cloudy for a few years now. If there's one team in the NHL in danger of upheaval/contraction, it's these guys. The Panthers aren't in as dire straights, but there certainly are no shortage of people willing to bring them up in the conversation when it comes to relocation. So why not add a little spark to a game that could use a little life? Let's play once and for all, winner take all. The winners get to stay where they are and the losers get one way tickets to the uninhabited destination of their choice. Winnipeg? Hamilton? Vegas? It's up to them.
January 12th. Lightning @ Kings, 10:30 PM EST. OK, so the Bolts looked to be much improve this year on the ice and I'm not saying that because I'm pro-Melrose. They did add a lot of good pieces. Nonetheless, the horrifying appearance of this matchup cannot be understated. Irregardless of off-season improvements, these were still the two worst teams in the NHL last year. And it's still the Lightning against the Kings. I'm sure all of 10 people will be excited about this one. That's if the Lakers aren't playing that night.
February 10th. Kings @ Islanders, 7 PM EST. Not only is this a crappy matchup to begin with, but neither team is likely to be in the playoff hunt come February. To add to that, have you ever been to Long Island in February? On a Tuesday night? At Nassau "the Ageless Wonder" Coliseum? I rest my case.
April 10th. Blue Jackets @ Blues, 8:30 PM EST. Oh, yeah. This one is going to have all sorts of playoff implications.