NHL Lockout: Most Exciting Games to Watch If Season Is Saved

Austin GreenCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 25: Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers shoots against Zach Parise #9 and Bryce Salvador #24 of the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 25, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There is still hope for a 48-game NHL regular season, as the league and the players' union are meeting in attempt to beat the mid-January deadline.

If the season is saved, the schedule will be altered, with most—if not all—of the nonconference games getting scrapped. So, although we likely won't be seeing a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Finals (damn it), we will still get some salivating conference games.

Although the NHL will almost certainly change the listed dates, the following games will feature the most intriguing matchups.


New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils (Tuesday, Jan. 29)

How could you not want to see this game after last year's heated Eastern Conference Finals?

In a back-and-forth series, the Devils prevailed 5-3 in a pivotal Game 5. In Game 6, they squeaked out a 3-2 overtime victory to eliminate the top-seeded Rangers and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Most of the key players will be back, including All-Stars Marian Gaborik, Dan Girardi and Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, and Adam Henrique and Martin Brodeur of the Devils.

Unfortunately, Zach Parise has moved on from New Jersey, so there's a little less star power than usual. Still, this should be a thrilling game, and with the potential for another brawl, there's even more reason to tune in.


Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings (Tuesday Jan. 22)

This game should be excellent, as we've got the defending champion Kings going up against the new-look Wild.

The Kings were unstoppable in their run last year, going 16-4 in the postseason to take home the Stanley Cup. Most of their key players will be return, including Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick. Quick was amazing in last year's playoffs, posting a save percentage of 94.6.

Meanwhile, the Wild struck gold in free agency, signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They should be one of the most-improved teams in the league this season.


Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals (Sunday, April 7)

There's plenty of reasons to tune into this game, but let's just go over the three basic ones.

Sidney Crosby (Penguins): four-time All-Star, 2007 MVP, 2007 scoring leader, 2009 Stanley Cup champion, 2010 goals leader.

Evgeni Malkin (Penguins): four-time All-Star, 2012 MVP, two-time scoring leader, 2009 Stanley Cup champion, 2009 Conn Smythe winner.

Alexander Ovechkin (Capitals): five-time All-Star, two-time MVP, 2008 scoring leader, two-time goals leader.

Yeah, I'd say those are enough reasons to watch this one.