The NHL has been a buzz with free agent news, but the actual NHL season is slowly creeping around the corner. We've had the season schedule since June 23rd now and it's only made the aching for the season increase.
While there are to be many games played over the course of the NHL season, there are some that particularly stand out.
Here are the 12 must-see NHL games of the 2011-12 season.
*These are in no particular order.
It's obvious but it must be put on the list. The opening game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins marks the beginning of the new season.
Whether or not you're a Flyers or Bruins fan, you can enjoy the NHL season beginning by watching two of the best teams in the NHL duke it out on national television.
It was big news when it was announced that the Atlanta Thrashers were possibly going to move to Winnipeg. The ailing franchise thinks they will benefit from a new place, especially since it's in a hockey-loving country
Winnipeg has some good players in Dustin Bygulien and Andrew Ladd, so success in Winnipeg could happen, but it truly relies on how the team performs, not where the team is located.
Watching the first NHL game in Winnipeg since 1997 should be fun even if it's just out of curiosity.
This is the first of five match ups between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks.
These two teams gave us one of, if not, the most exciting series in the this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, and, at the same time, created one of the best rivalries in the NHL today.
If you can, I would watch as many games between these two as possible.
Vancouver's and Boston's January 7th match-up is "mini rematch" of this year's Stanley Cup Final.
Vancouver's championship dream was shot down by Boston, but a win here, while it can't compare, definitely would mean something.
The fact that these two teams will treat this game as if it was more than just a regular season game makes it worth watching.
The Winter Classic will be held in Philadelphia, who will be hosting the New York Rangers.
I really enjoy, as I hope most NHL fans do, the Winter Classic. It brings back memories of playing street or roller hockey outside on the street. Just the atmosphere around these games make it worth watching.
So if, on January 2nd, you can tune into the 2012 Winter Classic, I would advise doing so.
The Phoenix Coyotes make a home-coming back to Winnipeg after relocating to Phoenix 15 years ago.
Both of these franchises are teams that are looking forward, hoping to make a run in the playoffs. If anything, it's just neat to see the old Jets play the new Jets.
For the third year ion the row, the Florida Panthers will host the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Eve.
Are we seeing what could be an every year thing?
If we are the Panthers might already have some catching up to do because they've lost both previous games on this date against the Canadiens.
Tradition makes everything a little more exciting. Even though we're catching this "tradition"(if it does become one) it's one worth watching.
Four games and four teams will premier their regular season games in Europe.
Anaheim will play Buffalo in Helsinki.
New York will play Los Angeles in Stockholm.
Then New York will play Anaheim Stockholm.
Lastly, Buffalo will play Los Angeles in Berlin, marking the first time a NHL game has been played in Berlin.
These games are always fun to watch because Europeans, especially in the Scandinavia countries, fans are just, if not more, enthusiastic about the games.
The two former Stanley Cup Champions meet October 15th in what could be a showcase of two goaltenders. Tim Thomas for Boston, and Corey Crawford for Chicago.
Boston is going to have to face the dilemma of trying to return to the playoffs and defend their championship, while Chicago are trying to come off a disappointing season.
It'll be some good Original Six hockey.
The Boston Bruins will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in this year's NHL Hall of Fame game.
First off, I have no idea how Boston got on this list so many times, but they do have a lot of interesting games during the season, being the returning Stanley Cup champions.
Sure, there will probably be more important games in the regular season, but most of those won't be realized until the time comes.
The Hall of Fame game adds a little variety, and it can be different and more interesting to the non-NHL fan.
Ottawa, a much-praised town in hockey, will host the 2012 NHL All Star game.
I know that the All-Star game doesn't really mean anything, but it is a great game just to see offensive juggernauts score goal after goal.
So many goals are scored that you seem to forget that there aren't any big checks and everything physical that makes hockey, hockey, but that's all fine.
April 7th, 2012 is the busiest day of the NHL. A total of 15 games will be played, and if you can manage to somehow watch part of all them, I salute you, and for those others I challenge you to try to watch them all because there's nothing better than watching hockey all day long.