10 Must-See NHL Games to Watch in October

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistOctober 1, 2013

10 Must-See NHL Games to Watch in October

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Game on! The NHL regular season kicks off this Tuesday.

    Last year at this time, fans were in the early stages of hockey withdrawal as the owners and players locked horns over a new collective bargaining agreement. We didn't see a game until January.

    This year, the issues are settled and there are plenty of interesting storylines unfolding as the season begins.

    Click here for the NHL's complete schedule for the month of October.

    Here's a look at 10 games in October that shouldn't be missed, with their television details. For games outside your local broadcast area, contact your cable provider for NHL Center Ice or sign into GameCenter Live online at NHL.com.

Tuesday, October 1: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    7 p.m. ET  CBC, RDS

    The NHL is throwing a party at Place des Festivals in Montreal to kick off the 2013-14 season on Tuesday.

    Face-Off starts at 3 p.m. ET with a lineup of free activities and hockey attractions. At 6:30, Kings of Leon hit the stage for a live performance in support of their new album, Mechanical Bull, then the game between Toronto and Montreal will be shown on big screens at 7 p.m.

    The concert will be featured in its entirety on CBC's broadcast network and on its website at cbcsports.ca.

    As for the game itself, Toronto and Montreal are Canada's two original six teams, whose rivalry dates back to December 26, 1917. Representing Canada's distinct English and French cultures, both teams have passionate, widespread fanbases who are celebrating their squads' recent returns to the playoff scene.

Saturday, October 5: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

    10 p.m. ET  CBC

    The Vancouver Canucks have been perennial Northwest Division champions in recent years while the Edmonton Oilers have lingered near the bottom. As a result, the Orcans grew accustomed to dominating games and padding their stats whenever they faced their rivals from northern Alberta.

    The Oilers are now improving and won the 2012-13 season series 3-2—the first time they've bested the Canucks since 2005-06. Edmonton also won both preseason matchups this year, first shelling Roberto Luongo to jump to an early 4-0 lead in Vancouver, then winning a chippy affair at Rexall Place.

    The Oilers have served notice that they're a force Vancouver must reckon with. They're also seeking revenge after Zack Kassian broke Sam Gagner's jaw with a careless high stick in preseason.

    This game is worth watching because it will feature plenty of skill, scoring and emotion.

Tuesday, October 8: New Jersey Devils at Vancouver Canucks

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    10 p.m. ET  TSN, NHLN-US, MSG PLUS

    Will Cory Schneider face his old team just a week into the new NHL season?

    After a surprise trade on draft day saw Schneider dealt from the Vancouver Canucks to the New Jersey Devils while Roberto Luongo remained in Vancouver, the lanky ginger has adapted well to his new surroundings. In the preseason, Schneider gave up just one goal during his four wins, with a goals-against average of 0.30 and a save percentage of .988 (from cbssports.com).

    Devils' incumbent Martin Brodeur was originally announced as the starter for the Devils' home opener on October 3, but the recent death of his father has raised questions about how how soon he'll be ready to play. Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports that Brodeur has rejoined the team, but his playing status remains murky.

    Just as all eyes were on John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault when the two coaches faced off against each other in preseason action, there will be no shortage of interest in a Schneider/Luongo head-to-head duel in Vancouver.

Wednesday, October 9: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    8 p.m. ET  NBCSN

    The Chicago Blackhawks are once again the Stanley Cup Champions. The St. Louis Blues would like nothing better than to dethrone them.

    There's no love lost between these Central Division teams. The rivalry was originally ignited by longtime tension between fans of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. In hockey, it reached its peak as the 'Hawks and Blues battled for supremacy during the 1990s.

    With just 300 miles separating the two cities, Blues brass has taken steps this year to try to discourage Blackhawks fans from attending their games and dominating the atmosphere. In August, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained that the Blues would be offering tickets to certain games—including the October 9 matchup against the 'Hawks—exclusively as part of their season ticket packages.

    Tune in to see if the move is a success, or if Chicago fans are able to use the secondary ticket market to cause their usual ruckus.

Wednesday, October 16: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    8 p.m. ET  TSN2, RDS2, NBCSN

    A playoff series between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals is now practically an annual tradition. They've faced off in four of the last five seasons, with three series going to seven games and each team winning twice.

    The last two series have gone to the Rangers, so the Caps will be fighting hard to level the playing field when the teams meet for the first time this year at the Verizon Center.

Thursday, October 17: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    7 p.m. ET  NHLN-US, ROOT, CSN-PH

    Some would say that the Keystone State rivalry is the best in the NHL.

    The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins both entered the league as part of the 1967 expansion. The Penguins endured some dark times early on while the Flyers captured two Stanley Cups during the "Broad Street Bullies" years in the mid-'70s. Pittsburgh won two Cups of their own in the early '90s and another four years ago, while the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final the following season.

    After winning one of the craziest playoff series in recent memory against the Penguins in 2012, the Flyers took a step backwards last year. October 17 will be their first test this season against Pittsburgh—a chance to show whether they'll be able to compete against the league's top teams this year.

Thursday, October 17: Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    9 p.m. ET  FS-D, ALT

    With Detroit's move to the Eastern Conference this season, the only time going forward that we could see the Red Wings meet the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs would be in the Stanley Cup Final.

    Too bad, because the Wings and Avs gave us some epic series between 1995 and 2003. Both teams were among the league's best, winning five Stanley Cups between them during that time: two for Colorado and three for Detroit.

    Patrick Roy was the No. 1 goaltender for the Avalanche throughout that period. His retirement in 2003 coincided with the beginning of the team's decline. They've been out of the playoff picture for the most part in recent years.

    Roy is now back with Colorado as head coach and vice president of hockey operations. The memories on both sides will be strong when the Red Wings and Avalanche line up at the Pepsi Center on October 17.

Wednesday, October 23: Ottawa Senators at Detroit Red Wings

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    7:30 p.m. ET  TSN, TVA, FS-D

    Do you think it'll be emotional when Daniel Alfredsson faces off against his old team for the first time as a member of the Detroit Red Wings? 

    The Ottawa Senators' former captain became the biggest story of free agency with his surprising decision to leave the franchise where he had spent his entire career. Even more interestingly, with Detroit moving to the Eastern Conference, the Sens and Wings are now rivals in the Atlantic Division who will play each other four times this season.

    The Senators believe they're a team on the rise, even without Alfredsson. They'll be eager to make that point on the ice at the teams' first meeting of the year, October 23 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Friday, October 25: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    7 p.m. ET  RDS2, MSG PLUS, ROOT

    The upstart New York Islanders gave the Stanley Cup favorite Pittsburgh Penguins quite a scare in their first-round playoff series last spring.

    The Islanders had never lost to Pittsburgh in three previous postseason meetings and weren't worried about something as trivial as a first-vs.-eighth matchup getting in the way.

    New York pushed Pittsburgh to overtime of Game 6 before eventually falling by the wayside, but it's unlikely that either squad has forgotten the topsy-turvy series.

    A young Isles team will be eager to show that last year's playoffs weren't a fluke when they return to Pittsburgh for their first game of the year against the Penguins on October 25.

Wednesday, October 30: San Jose at Los Angeles

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    10:30 p.m. ET  CSN-CA, FS-W

    The San Jose Sharks came tantalizingly close to dethroning the 2012 Stanley Cup champions in their seven-game Western Conference Semifinal last season. It was just the second time that the two California teams had met in the playoffs, but it was an intense series that saw plenty of bad blood bubble to the surface.

    The Kings remain among the NHL's elite while the Sharks are on the upswing. The events of last spring will be fresh in everyone's minds when these two teams meet at Staples Center in this pre-Halloween matchup. 

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