Top 5 Must-See Games on the Philadelphia Flyers' 2014-15 Schedule
Preseason action for the Philadelphia Flyers begins in less than three weeks, with the regular season set to commence a mere two weeks after that.
Hopes are high for a Flyers squad that finished third in the tightly contested Metropolitan Division a season ago before taking the eventual Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers to the brink in their opening-round playoff series.
For fans in Philadelphia, every game is a must-see event, but even the most diehard supporters of the Orange and Black will admit some contests stand out from the rest.
Here's a look at the five truly must-see games on the Flyers' 2014-15 schedule.
October 28 vs. Los Angeles Kings
The start to Philadelphia's 2014-15 schedule is an absolutely brutal test.
Of the Flyers' 10 October outings, nine are against playoff teams from last year, including three division winners and seven clubs that posted at least 100 points in the regular season.
With that said, the marquee matchup from all of those highly anticipated early-season showdowns comes Tuesday, October 28, when the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings invade Wells Fargo Center.
Not only did the Kings capture the Cup last June, but Los Angeles has now claimed hockey's ultimate prize in two of the last three years and will return many of the key pieces to its recent postseason success—including former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
Philly and Los Angeles split their two head-to-head meetings last season, with the road team claiming each outing.
The Flyers haven't beaten the Kings in Philadelphia since a 2-0 victory on Broad Street back on February 25, 2009.
The Orange and Black will certainly be tested in the season's opening month, but there's no greater test and barometer for future success than a showdown with the defending champs.
November 14 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Philadelphia's 2014-15 roster will look largely similar to that of last season. There will, however, be one glaring difference following the trade earlier this summer which sent fan favorite Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for former Flyer R.J. Umberger.
In an absolute can't-miss affair for Orange and Black supporters, Friday, November 14 marks Hartnell's return to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Blue Jackets come to Philly for the first of five head-to-head meetings in the coming season between the newly appointed division rivals.
In seven seasons with the Flyers, Hartnell amassed 157 goals and 327 points while suiting up in 517 of a possible 540 regular-season outings during that time.
The Regina, Saskatchewan, native was a key component to Philly's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 and was one of the most outgoing and entertaining personalities in Philadelphia sports over the last 10 years.
Expect Hartnell to receive a standing ovation when he's invariably announced as a starter that night, and don't at all be surprised if Flyers fans join in a collective raucous cheer the first couple of times he touches the puck as well.
The pleasantries won't go far beyond that, though, as the Flyers will need to be at the top of their game against one of the best up-and-coming teams in the NHL.
November 29 @ New York Rangers
This won't be the first meeting of the year between Philadelphia and New York, but it's very likely to be among the most intense.
By the time the Flyers invade Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 29, the two clubs will have already faced off once in New York just 10 days earlier. They will also be coming off a showdown at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia exactly 24 hours prior.
In other words, tempers should be at a boiling point between these longtime rivals by the time this get-together comes around.
After an offseason of change in Pittsburgh, it's very likely the Metropolitan Division will go through the Flyers and Rangers. If last year's seven-game playoff series between the two is any indication, there's little separating the Orange and Black from the Blueshirts.
The home team won each of the four head-to-head showdowns a season ago, and Philly's recent struggles at MSG are well-documented, as the Flyers haven't won a regular-season game in the Rangers' home building since February 20, 2011.
This will be the Flyers' last chance on the 2014-15 calendar to snag a regular-season win in New York, which could go a long way toward building the confidence necessary to oust the Rangers down the road.
January 20 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Every time the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins face off, it's a must-see game. Normally, however, fans in Philadelphia don't have to wait so long to see their bitter rivals in person.
The Flyers and Penguins will meet just four times during the course of the 2014-15 regular season, with three of those head-to-head meetings coming after the the new year—including both showdowns on Broad Street.
The first of those comes on Tuesday, January 20 and is the latest the Flyers will enjoy their first home tilt against the Penguins in nearly 12 years. In fact, Pittsburgh won't invade Wells Fargo Center until Philadelphia's 48th regular-season game and 22nd home contest this season.
Even though the Penguins have undergone some tremendous organizational changes this summer, the usual suspects of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury all remain.
As such, there should be plenty of fuel to fire one of the NHL's most heated rivalries once again.
March 25 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Just as the Flyers will enjoy an early-season test when the defending champions come to town, Philadelphia will also have a late-season challenge when the perennial contenders from Chicago invade the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, March 25.
Not only has Chicago won two of the last five Stanley Cups, but the Blackhawks enter the 2014-15 campaign having earned six consecutive trips to the postseason, highlighted by four appearances in the Western Conference Final.
Meanwhile, of Chicago's two recent successful runs through the Stanley Cup Final, one came at the Flyers' expense with the decisive Game 6 played in Philadelphia.
Since their championship defeat to the Blackhawks, the Flyers have claimed three of the last four regular-season meetings with Chicago and will host the Blackhawks this year with just eight tilts remaining in the regular season.
With just two weeks left in the regular season, both Philadelphia and Chicago will be desperate for points.
Meanwhile, fans in the City of Brotherly Love are always eager to see their squad exact a little revenge on the team that hoisted hockey's ultimate prize on their home ice.