If you are not a season ticket holder like I am, you have to pick out which select few games you are going to attend. I wrote this article to help you sift through all the games to find which ones you have to see.
This is a general list for all teams because I really do not feel like going through 30 teams’ schedules of 82 games and then writing a little blurb for all the teams. I know there are not home games and away games against all teams, but I will offer enough alternatives that if this one team does not come to town you can find another game to watch.
I am NOT saying these are the top 10 teams in the league! These are just 10 teams I think are worth seeing in person this upcoming season.
No. 1 Detroit Red Wings.
I hope no explanation is necessary as to why you should go see the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Red Wings are also an original six team and you should strive, as a hockey fan, to see all six of them play.
Another reason you should see this game is because you need to fill the stands with your fans—otherwise the Red Wings fans will come in droves, trust me.
No. 2 Montreal Canadians.
No, they are not the Eastern Conference Champs and, no, they do not have Sidney Crosby. But, they are an original six team and have the most cups of any franchise. They have a pretty good team this year too, in case you didn't know.
The only thing better would be seeing the Canadians play in Montreal, but this is not a bad alternative.
No. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Although I think the Penguins aren't as good as they were last year, they do have two superstars. I have not seen Crosby or Malkin in person, so this is on good faith that they will deliver the same product I got when I saw Ovechkin.
You can watch one of these guys on TV a million times, but it is so much different to see them play in person. Bring your girlfriend in her pink Crosby jersey and giant “I <3 Crosby” sign and make an awkward date out of it.
No. 4 Washington Capitals.
You have no idea how amazing and big Ovechkin is until you see him in person. You also get the chance to see the Russian player with the highest NHL point total in Sergei Fedorov.
The Capitals are also a pretty good team if you had not noticed. It is worth seeing Brashear and his tree trunk legs pick a fight with your local goon.
No. 5 San Jose Sharks.
Montreal technically had a better powerplay last year, but I have seen San Jose’s five on four skills in person, and it is really frightening. They are so efficient with their set-up and passing—and that was also last year, before they picked up Dan Boyle.
Joe Thornton is a treat to watch, as is goaltender Nabokov.
No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks.
Young duo of Kane and Toews are jaw dropping to watch in person. You also get to see Brian Campbell and the Hawks' underrated defense. The fun part will be guessing which All-Star goalie the team will start that night.
Oh, and there is also the original six factor to consider.
No. 7 Boston Bruins.
Original six team, The “Other” Boston Team, and seeing how big 6’7” Chara is on skates. These tickets will probably be easier to pick-up than the teams mentioned above. Trust me.
No. 8 Philadelphia Flyers.
They are a pretty good team with a storied history and some pretty amazing players. If James vanRiemsdyk and Claude Giroux make the team, they will add to the superstar appeal. Additionally, Daniel Briere has moments of brilliance you could witness first hand.
No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets.
If brilliance is what you are seeking, you should go to a Blue Jackets game and perhaps Rick Nash could give a repeat performance of his goal against the Coyotes last year. It might be a bit of a stretch, putting them in the top-10, but this team is much improved this year. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they will produce.
Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard are two rookies that are worth watching in person. You could probably walk up the night of the game and pick-up tickets, but you will get your money’s worth.
No. 10 Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers are a really young and really high powered team that should be exciting to watch. Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano are an amazing duo. The addition of Erik Cole from Carolina makes the Oilers a team to go see for a fan who likes offense.
Like the Bruins and Blue Jackets, these tickets will be easy to pick-up in most areas.
Honorable Mention: New York Rangers.
If the New York Rangers live up to their potential, they will definitely be worth seeing. Nikolai Zherdev, when he chooses to apply his talent, is breathtaking in his skill, and I have seen him go end to end and score on multiple occasions.
This team could either be brilliant or a catastrophic flop during the regular season—that is why they did not make the top-10. However, keep an eye out if they get hot. There is also that original six factor that is worth considering.
A word of advice: DO NOT sit next to a Rangers fan.