Boston Bruins: 5 Games You Can't Miss

Chris BlanchardContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2013

Boston Bruins: 5 Games You Can't Miss

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    The National Hockey League released the Boston Bruins 48-game schedule on Saturday, with the puck set to drop on January 19. Featuring exclusively Eastern Conference offerings, the shortened-season promises an epic sprint to the playoffs. 

    The Bruins will be afforded ample opportunity to take on old Northeast Division rivals in contests overflowing with meaning, as they seek to claim their third consecutive division crown. 

    The schedule also features a number of dates with heavyweight foes in the race for Eastern Conference supremacy. 

    Here are five games that you won't want to miss.

Home vs. the New York Rangers, January 19

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    The Bruins will drop the puck on the 2013 season with a home clash against the New York Rangers at the TD Garden. 

    The Rangers enter the season with soaring expectations as they seek their first championship since 1994. Following a blockbuster deal to acquire scoring-machine Rick Nash from Columbus, New York may finally be equipped to bring the Cup back to New York City. 

    Boston will be tasked with beating defending Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist, if it would like to get off to a hot start. Meanwhile, Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask will have to repel the likes of Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Nash. 

    In a 48-game season, neither of these title contenders can afford a slow start. A victory on opening night could bring with it the momentum necessary to grab an early lead in the conference standings. 

At the Montreal Canadiens, February 6

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    One thing hockey fans missed most during the devastating lockout was the fierce competition between long-timesrivals like Boston and Montreal. The storied rivalry between the Bruins and the Canadiens will see its next chapter unfold on March 6 in Quebec. 

    Although the Canadiens do not seem to pose a major threat to Boston in the Northeast Division, the fast and furious pace of the shortened season should add to the intensity between these bitter foes. 

    The first of four meetings between the B's and the Habs could be a perfect opportunity for a young star like Tyler Seguin of the Bruins to make his mark on this Original Six feud. 

At the Washington Capitals, March 5

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    On March 5, Boston will have the opportunity for revenge against the Washington Capitals, who ended their Stanley Cup defense last season. 

    Last April, Washington's Joel Ward's overtime shot beat Tim Thomas in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series to begin a very long offseason for the Bruins. 

    Even after losing enigmatic scorer Alexander Semin, the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals still have the firepower to earn a high seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

    A Boston team that found itself short on scoring in last spring's playoff series will hope to redress the wrongs that saw its players hit the golf course earlier than expected. 

    The inconsistent David Krejci of the Bruins could help hush trade rumors with a big offensive showing in DC. 

At Pittsburgh Penguins, March 17

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    On March 17, the Bruins will hit the road to take on the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins in a nationally televised matinee. The lunchtime contest will be the second of three between the title-contending clubs this season. 

    Five days after their first matchup with Dan Bielsma's boys, the Bruins will have a great opportunity to go on the road and showcase their skills against one of the President's Trophy favorites. 

    Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and goaltender Tuukka Rask will have their hands full trying to shut down superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But a victory over the Pens could position Boston for a run at the East's top seed as it heads down the stretch. 

At Philadelphia Flyers, April 23

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    In their penultimate tilt of the season, the Bruins will face the hated Philadelphia Flyers. Besides potentially carrying major playoff implications, the battle between the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies could be a bloodbath. 

    These two franchises, used to duking it out near the top of the Eastern Conference, just plain hate each other. Boston pugilists Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand will be salivating over the opportunity to rough up their orange-clad competitors. 

    With the playoffs just days away, the Bruins should have the opportunity to solidify their playoff seeding and establish some much-needed momentum heading into the postseason with a victory in Philly.