The opening day of the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL regular season is heating up and there are some amazing matchups on the Saturday night schedule.
From the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference, the league is back in full swing and the lockout hasn’t dampened the love for the sport.
The fans are ready to watch the best matchups of opening night.
All of the following games will keep even the most causal hockey fan entertained as opening night kicks off what should be a fast-paced season.
Colorado at Minnesota
While the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild have rich hockey traditions, both franchises have struggled mightily over the last five years; not anymore.
The Avalanche have one of the best young teams in the NHL—with stars ready to blossom like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny—but it will be the team’s improved defense that really could make them dangerous in 2013.
Minnesota made its big offseason changes via free agency. The Wild were fortunate enough to lure both forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to the team, and now there is no questioning just how deep and talented Minnesota will be.
This Western Conference matchup could be a preview of a potential playoff series between these two up-and-coming teams.
NY Rangers at Boston
The Western Conference has some amazing matchups, but the best matchup in the Eastern Conference on opening night is between two favorites to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals this season: the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers.
Boston is trying to recapture the form it possessed two years ago, while New York is trying to incorporate new faces like Rick Nash into the lineup. Both teams have much to prove in the lockout-shortened regular season, and not much time to make it happen.
There is a serious chance that both of these teams will make the postseason, so this matchup between the Bruins and the Rangers could be a game that foreshadows a playoff series.
In fact, this meeting has the chance to be an Eastern Conference Championship preview.
Detroit at St. Louis
In one of the most anticipated matchups of opening night, the Detroit Red Wings will square off with the St. Louis Blues in what could be considered the ultimate passing of the torch in the Western Conference.
While the Red Wings have been perennial powerhouses for the better part of a decade, they have lost key stars like Nicklas Lidstrom and are not the unstoppable force they once were.
The Blues are the exact opposite. Led by young stars like T.J. Oshie and Chris Stewart—as well as the spectacular play of the goalie tandem made up of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott—St. Louis is one of the most promising teams in the west and should be a real contender for the Stanley Cup in 2013
With so many storylines leading into this matchup, even the most causal hockey fan won’t want to miss this struggle.
Full Opening Night Schedule (Saturday, January 19)
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia: 3 p.m. ET
Ottawa at Winnipeg: 3 p.m. ET
Chicago at Los Angeles: 3 p.m. ET
NY Rangers at Boston: 7 p.m. ET
Toronto at Montreal: 7 p.m. ET
New Jersey at NY Islanders: 7 p.m. ET
Washington at Tampa Bay: 7 p.m. ET
Carolina at Florida: 7:30 p.m. ET
Detroit at St. Louis: 8 p.m. ET
Columbus at Nashville: 8 p.m. ET
Phoenix at Dallas: 8 p.m. ET
Colorado at Minnesota: 9 p.m. ET
Anaheim at Vancouver: 10 p.m. ET