Return of the Jets: Predicting the NHL's Top 7 Games over the Next 7 Days
It's early October—finally. An awful hockey offseason is over, another year of baseball is drawing to a close (Go Tigers), the NFL is back (Go Lions) and the NBA season is dead on arrival (Thank God).
Best part of October? Hockey season is back. Can't get any better than this. Lots of storylines going into this season, from the return of the Winnipeg Jets to Sidney Crosby's injury to new contenders.
With all that in mind, let's take a look at the Game of the Day over the next seven days.
Saturday: Buffalo Sabres at Los Angeles Kings
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After major improvements from both teams over the offseason, this could very well end up being a preview of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
If that's not good enough for the game, the teams will play in Berlin—Ehrhoff's country of birth.
Prediction: Both teams have made vast improvements, but the Kings are still a better team overall. Kings over Sabres.
Sunday: Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets
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Since that time, Justin Timberlake has gone from N'Sync to "In Time", pro wrestling went from the coolest thing ever to an absolute struggle, and the Canadian/American exchange rate has virtually flip-flopped.
But to focus on the game, Winnipeg is returning, and Montreal will return to Winnipeg as well. Winnipeg still has a lot of growing to do, while Montreal didn't go down, but didn't go up either.
Prediction: Winnipeg crumbles under the pressure of what may be the rowdiest regular season fans we've seen in years. Montreal over Winnipeg.
Monday: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals
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Not a bad matchup here at all. Two of the top five players in the NHL, Ovechkin and Stamkos, playing against each other. Battle of the Southeast. One team nearly made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, and the other is hoping to finally get back there this year.
Did I forget to mention that the last time these two teams met was when Tampa completed the sweep in the second round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs? That might be worth noting.
Regardless, this should be an interesting game, as Washington has seemingly gotten better by adding veteran goaltender in Tomas Vokoun.
Tampa Bay on the other hand, has lost a few small pieces, and can also leave people wondering if Dwayne Roloson will be able to still compete at an NHL level considering his age.
Prediction: Ovechkin overcomes Stamkos. Washington over Tampa.
Tuesday: Florida Panthers at Pittsburgh Penguins
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Not a whole lot to pick from on Tuesday, nevertheless, it marks the home opener for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It should be interesting to see how a very different-looking Panthers team handles a strong contender like the Penguins. Did Dale Tallon make the right moves over the offseason?
Even though they only ruled him out for the season opener, it's safe to assume that Rosie O'Donnell has a better chance of running a marathon than Sidney Crosby has of playing in this game, so don't expect that.
Prediction: The Panthers pull off an upset against the Penguins. Florida over Pittsburgh.
Wednesday: Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers
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The Flyers are another team that has undergone serious change after GM Paul Holmgren traded Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in the same day.
Nevertheless, the Flyers don't appear to have taken much of a step back. They have youth, which looks like it could be very dangerous in the future, as Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and James van Riemsdyk are all under the age of 23.
On the other end of the ice you've got the Vancouver Canucks, who were one win short of winning the Stanley Cup last year. The Canucks didn't do much over the offseason other than losing defender Christian Ehrhoff to the Sabres, but it's safe to say they'll be back in the Cup hunt.
Prediction: Philadelphia has made some moves, and there are too many questions you can ask about their lineup changes. Vancouver over Philadelphia.
Thursday: Vancouver Canucks at Detroit Red Wings
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This was nearly the Western Conference Final last year and could very well be again. Vancouver and Detroit are both favorites to win their divisions, and both will be back in the playoffs in April chasing the Cup.
Of course, the Red Wings will hear the typical "old team" stuff, though I think it's safe to assume that the only thing that's gotten old is the idea itself. At the same time, the Canucks will be trying to prove that they're still the best team in the West.
Prediction: Detroit will be on fire in front of the hometown crowd and Vancouver will be tired from playing the Flyers. Detroit over Vancouver.
Friday: San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks
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Two teams and two fan bases that just don't like each other. The Sharks against the Ducks. Anaheim didn't seem to do a whole lot during the offseason besides waiting for a decision from Teemu Selanne on whether he would return or not.
The Sharks, on the other hand, did a lot. Some good, and some bad. They added Brent Burns, but let Ian White walk. They got Martin Havlat, but let Dany Heatley go. They also signed Michal Handzus and traded away Devin Setoguchi.
Good or bad moves? Debatable for sure, I'd say while they took a slight step forward on defense they took a bigger step back on offense.
Prediction: The Sharks overcome the Ducks on the road. San Jose over Anaheim.
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Jordan Matthews is an NHL fan and a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. For more coverage you can become a fan on Bleacher Report or follow him on Twitter by clicking the button below.