On October 13, 2012, the beer will be expensive, the chicken tenders fresh, and the 4,800 square foot projection screen facing Newark Penn Station will be lit up; all to kick off the New Jersey Devils 2012-13 NHL season versus the Boston Bruins. The rosters will be set and the adrenaline will be flowing as Peter DeBoer’s squad goes head to head against the black and yellow squad from Bean Town.
Obviously, there are bigger issues going on right now around the league, but, ever since the schedule was released, there are games you should be very excited about and already have marked on your calendar. It’s time to get out of your homes, drive to Newark, and continue to support the team that made a historic run into the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
Here’s 10 games I’m confident will be well worth seeing live.
October 17th vs New York Rangers
Anyone with any basic hockey knowledge in the tri-state area knows the Devils vs Rangers rivalry goes back to the 80’s and is more fresh today then a pile of manure at the Sussex County Fair. From the opening faceoff, six-player brawl, to Pete DeBoer and John Tortorella screaming at each other, to the epic rematch 19 years in the making of the Devils and Rangers facing each other in the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals, it’s a game worth attending. Adam Henrique’s Game 6 OT goal sent the Rangers home earlier than expected, so I’m hoping the Devils fans come out in full force and Rock Your Red.
November 3rd vs Pittsburgh Penguins
While no post season drama occurred between the Devils and Penguins, these teams always put on a great show when they get together. Love him or hate him, Sidney Crosby puts butts in seats all over the league. He’s a very dynamic player and shows his emotions on the ice. Evgeni Malkin is also, hands down, one of the most talented players in the league to watch. He’s young, quick, and has pretty good mitts. A well deserved Hart Trophy winner, it’ll be interesting to see what he delivers this season. With the Atlantic Division being one of the most competitive in the league, this game kicks off number one of six.
November 6 vs Florida Panthers
No other series caused me more anxiety in the post season then Round 1 versus the Panthers. The team is virtually full of no name, undecorated skaters and it took 24 periods to put these cats down. Not only did Adam Henrique begin his post season stardom in this series, Pete DeBoer got to put away his old team as head coach of his 2nd NHL team. This game should be an interesting one to take in as I feel a new grudge match has blossomed in the Eastern Conference and you know both teams want to get the best of each other this upcoming season.
November 11th vs Minnesota Wild
Two words. Zach Parise. I don’t think any Devils fan needs to understand why we need to be at this game. After captaining the Devils to their first cup final since 2003, Zach Parise left delicious pizza and amazing bagels to play with Ryan Suter in a land where lakes are abundant and the Minnesota Wild made their biggest splash since formed in 2000. I really don’t expect the Wild to do anything significant even with caliber players like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in the lineup. To be honest, I just think the Devils should and will impose their will on the Wild basically telling Zach, you never should have left us.
December 21 vs Philadelphia Flyers
My least favorite chore around the house is taking out the trash. But, in the 2012 playoffs, taking out the trash never felt so good. Flyers fans are loud, obnoxious, and cause a ruckus everywhere they go, so it was nice to absolutely own the Flyers by winning four straight to send them home. After the Flyers absolutely dismantled the Penguins and everyone expected them to steamroll New Jersey, the Devils played harder and smarter than the Broad Street Bullies. After a couple post seasons of the Flyers sending us home early, it was great to repay the favor. The Flyers roster has changed a bit this off season but nevertheless, the usual cast of characters are back in orange and black. As another Atlantic Division rival, it’s a similar feel to the Rangers rivalry and will be fun to go head to head again this season.
February 7th vs Calgary Flames
The Flames don’t visit often and have some players well worth taking in live if you get the chance. While the only connection the Devils might have to Calgary is that Joe Nieuwendyke won a cup with both Calgary and New Jersey, it should be a fun game. With Calgary’s biggest additions being Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman they still have one of the better goal tenders in the league, as Jarome Iginla also joined the 500 goal club last season and is always worth watching in person.
February 9th vs Los Angeles Kings
What do you even begin to say when you saw that the Kings come to New Jersey after battling it out for either a 4th or 1st cup title? If you’re not coming out for this game, you’re delusional. If the Devils win, it obviously changes nothing when it comes to what happened in June, but you can bet the Devils want their revenge against a quick and abrupt end to their Stanley Cup dreams. For the most part, both teams basically remain unchanged and it’s always a big attraction when the two teams who played for the cup battled again. There’s no telling if both teams will meet again, so if you’re only going to meet once, you might as well put on a show. Maybe Steve Bernier will even go from villain to hero.
February 21st vs Detroit Red Wings
When the Detroit Red Wings come to town, you go to the game. No ifs, ands, or buts. Although I did attend an Islanders game last season where the Wings played and I would be surprised if the arena was at 50% capacity. I’m still scratching my head over that one. The team is an Original Six, has some of the best players in the league on their roster, and is a perennial cup contender. If you’re a fan of the game and appreciate the skill and caliber of other players and clubs like I do, you need to get out and see what other teams have to offer win or lose. I’ll never miss an opportunity to see the Wings play live. So mark it on the calendar, and tweet me, maybe I’ll meet up with you and we can be best hockey friends forever.
March 5th vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa only visits a couple times a year but they are a great team to watch live. They have veterans with cup experience and have one of the best young studs to play the game today, Steven Stamkos. He has put up 50 goals twice before age 23, putting him in the conversation with Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Joe Nieuwendyk, Pavel Bure and Alexander Ovechkin as the only players to achieve the feat. It’s impressive to see young stars develop and I’m excited to see how his career continues to develop.
March 9th vs Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton was a powerhouse in the 80’s taking home four Stanley Cup championships. While the past will always be talked about because of the roster they once had, the future is bright and they are in a rebuilding phase to not only clinch a playoff berth again, but to bring home another cup. With three consecutive years drafting another #1 draft pick, they should be a very fun team to watch this season. With Jordan Eberle having a breakout season in 2011-12, Taylor Hall being locked up in a 7-year deal, Ryan Nugent Hopkins healthy, and NHL virgin Nail Yakupov, Edmonton has a bright future and I’m looking forward to seeing this team skate at The Rock.