NHL Opening Day 2013: Top Matchups in Hockey's Triumphant Return

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJanuary 19, 2013

Apr. 1, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Marian Gaborik (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring his 40th goal of the season during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Players, owners and league officials were enemy No. 1 to the public during months of missed hockey. But alas, NHL opening day 2013 is here.

All is forgotten, all is right in the world again.

The very long-awaited return of the NHL is finally upon us and there are some very exciting matchups that will kick off the new season.

Let’s take a look at which opening-night games will steal the show.


Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens

If you have to ask why to tune into this one, you don’t have a good grasp of NHL history. The two Canadian teams have been bitter rivals since the mid-1900s.

There may not be very much to be hopeful for, for either team, but there is sure to be some intense hockey played between the two.

Montreal finished with just 78 points and ended up dead last in the Eastern Conference standings last season. The Leafs weren’t far behind, recording just 80 points, and finishing two ranks above the Canadiens.


Detroit Red Wings at St. Louis Blues

Another big rivalry game will open up the first night of hockey this season. Detroit went 2-3-1 against St. Louis last season.

The two foes will meet five times, not six, in the shortened 48-game schedule.

Future Hall of Famer and 20-year veteran Nicklas Lidstrom is no longer in town for the Red Wings. They’ll experiment with different combinations on the blue line, as the absence of their trusty vet leaves a hole in their defense.

The Blues were the second seed in the Western Conference and are returning the solid group that got them there last season. However, a four-game sweep by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings ended their run.


New York Rangers at Boston Bruins

A classic New York versus Boston matchup is sure to excite at least both of those two big fanbases.

Don’t forget that these two were two of the Original Six NHL franchises and have a lot history between them, having met 628 times previously. The Bruins hold a 282-247-97 series lead.

The game will feature the debut of new Rangers acquisition Rick Nash. Nash was acquired during the offseason from the Columbus Blue Jackets and will get his a taste of the TD Garden in his first appearance for his new team.

New York, the first seed in last season’s playoffs, was knocked off by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals while the Bruins, the second seed in the conference, dropped a disappointing opening-round series to the Washington Capitals.