After 113 agonizing days and half a season laid to waste, the NHL lockout has finally come to an end, and the pucks are set to hit the ice for the first time this Saturday, January 19th. The 2013 NHL schedule was released earlier this week, and each team is slated to play 48 games in a shortened 99-day season. Knowing that “bitter” would be an understatement as far as fans’ reaction to the league’s extended absence, the NHL is delivering the goods and coming back with a vengeance. Opening night will feature 13 games that are chock-full of magnificent matchups, including some budding and long-time heated rivalries. Here’s a breakdown of a few of the highlight games you need to experience live as the 2013 NHL season kicks off for what’s sure to be an incredibly wild ride.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers at 3 p.m. ET – Wells Fargo Center
Want to get on the fans’ good side? Make one of the first games of the day one that pits two of the league’s most bitter rivals against one another and have it feature arguably the league’s two best players. That’s what’s going down as these in-state rivals take the ice Saturday, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will try to notch the first victory for the Penguins against a solid Flyers squad. The fun thing is that these squads truly despise each other, and they’re both stacked with talent. With Marc-Andre Fleury behind the net, the Pens’ forwards can blitz Philly all game long, but they’ll have a hard time getting anything past Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen. With Captain Claude Giroux playing alongside Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, the Flyers will have plenty of ammo to fight back. Be sure to check out our Pittsburgh Penguins tickets and Philadelphia Flyers tickets to see them live all season.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings at 3 p.m. ET – Staples Center
This one will place the defending Stanley Cup champions up against a juggernaut Blackhawks team that won it all in 2010, and whom many think can win this year. The Kings’ retained Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, and dominating goalie Jonathan Quick from last season’s sensational run; but the Hawks are coming into Staples Center stacked with players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, so this should be epic. Both teams have legitimate Cup aspirations, and they can both lay down the hammer on defense a second before blitzing with virtuoso players on offense. This one could steal the show on opening night, so grab your Chicago Blackhawks tickets and Los Angeles Kings tickets now to see the action live.
New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins at 7 p.m.ET – TD Garden
A preview of the Eastern Conference Finals perhaps? This matchup will serve as a great litmus test for both teams as the season kicks off. Last year the Bruins had the best goal differential in the NHL, and this season the Rangers are coming in as one of the favorites to claim the 2013 Stanley Cup. The Rangers added All-Star Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he’ll be paired up with an already loaded squad boasting Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, and Henrik Lundqvist manning the Net. The Bruins are are sure to fly high once again behind Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, David Krecji, Zdeno Chara, and Milan Lucic, but game one will be a doozy. These two proud hockey cities both have the aspirations and the talent to win the Stanley Cup, so you can expect fireworks on the ice. We’ve got plenty of premium New York Rangers tickets and Boston Bruins tickets to see which team can go the furthest.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. ET – Bell Centre
These aren’t the best two teams playing on Saturday night, but no one can hold a candle to this rivalry. Being two of the NHL’s Original Six teams, these powerhouse Canadian franchises have battled it out for nearly a century. And, standing as one of the premier rivalries in all of sports, the Canadiens versus Maple Leafs game is the true sign that the NHL is back. Their games are always supremely intense and come down to the wire. Toronto’s stellar right-winger Phil Kessel will be looking to kick off another all-star campaign with a solid season opener, but Canadiens stars Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole will be looking to put up points like they did last season and get off to a hot start, which would certainly have the Bell Centre ringing. Look over our Montreal Canadiens tickets and Toronto Maple Leafs tickets now to ensure you don’t miss out on this historic matchup.
Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. ET – Tampa Bay Times Forum
Want to see some goals? Here’s your game. Four of the past six Rocket Richard Trophy winners, which goes to the NHL’s top goal scorer, will be on the ice in the form of Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin and Tampa’s Steven Stamkos. Both teams are speedy and prop up relatively lax defenses with their scoring prowess; so look for Ovie, Nick Backstrom, and Alexander Semin to have it out with Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavlier all night long. The Caps are have a new head coach in the newly crowned Hockey Hall of Famer Adam Oates, but Guy Boucher is primed to get his squad into the playoffs. This one should be nonstop action from start to finish, and you can see every game both teams play this season by browsing the assortment of Washington Capitals tickets and Tampa Bay Lightning tickets.
Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild at 9 p.m. ET – Xcel Energy Center
In one of the last games of the evening, the world will finally get to see the newly-minted dynamic duo that captivated the pre-lockout offseason, as Zach Parise and Ryan Suter take the ice for the first time with the Minnesota Wild. The offseason’s two top prizes will be keystones to the offensive and defensive lines, and their presence should surely help the Wild climb from their 30th rank in goals scored last season. But with stars like Matt Duchene, Paul Statsny, and Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche will be no pushovers, and they can certainly silence the home crowd inside “the Forest.” Come see Parise and Suter live with Minnesota Wild tickets, and our Colorado Avalanche tickets will allow you to see the team in every game this season.