With opening weekend of the 2010-11 NHL season getting underway Thursday afternoon, the hockey crew at SB Nation put together a list of the games you have to catch on television, taking you all the way through Sunday evening.
(All times Eastern)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7
People love to complain about Versus and its NHL coverage, but Opening Day features a tripleheader that feels very NFL. You can watch three games today, uninterrupted in HD and in their entirety, while only taking a break for dinner with family and/or friends.
Versus has taken their pledge to "super-serve" the hockey fan and effectively put it into action. It's hard to complain about that. Let's look at all the games on Thursday.
TV: Versus HD, TSN HD
Why You Should Watch: On paper, this is just another game between two cross-conference opponents that probably aren't going to challenge too hard for a playoff spot in a few months. There are 1,230 games in an NHL season, however, and this one is No. 1.
Besides that, watch for the crowd. Even if you don't care about either team, and you can just about guarantee that 90 percent of the fans in the building on Thursday won't be fans of the Wild or the 'Canes, how excited would you be to see an NHL game live and in person without having to make the usually necessary trans-Atlantic flight?
TV: CBC HD, RDS HD
Why You Should Watch: It's the first Canadian game of the year. It's Habs-Leafs. It's the only day of the year where Leafs fans actually believe they're going to win the game. Unfortunately, there's no TV in the United States on this one.
Mike Cammalleri is out of the lineup, thanks to a pretty egregious violation in Saturday's preseason contest against the Islanders. How much does this help the Leafs cause and can they effectively take advantage?
TV: Versus HD
Why You Should Watch: It's the first game in the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens have been the Flyers' kryptonite over the last several seasons, but a year removed from Philly's trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, have the roles reversed? Have the Flyers learned anything that can help them get over the issue the Penguins have posed for them in recent years?
TV: Versus HD
Why You Should Watch: The Avs were the Cinderella of the 2010 postseason -- not even expected to have an invite to the ball. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were the belle of that ball, winning the entire thing. The big question is why the NHL schedule makers couldn't give the Blackhawks a home game to open the season after winning the Cup, but nevertheless, they're on the road. Do the 'Hawks show any signs of depletion after their quasi-fire sale this summer? Also, Marty Turco makes his Chicago debut.
TV: CBC HD
Why You Should Watch: Honestly, Flames-Oilers... it's a tough argument to make. No, in all seriousness, the young guns on the Oilers are plenty to reason to tune in. Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, et al. No American TV, though.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8
There are six games on Friday and four of them start at 7 or 7:30 p.m. We'll narrow the choices for you.
12:00 PM ET - Minnesota Wild at Carolina Hurricanes in Helsinki, Finland
TV: Versus HD, TSN HD
Why You Should Watch: It's hockey at noon on a Friday. Do you need another reason? Oh, you do? Well, two meaningful games in two days against the same opponent. That's always a recipe for some bad blood. Game 2 of this "home-and-home" just might be a physical one.
TV: Versus HD, TSN HD
Why You Should Watch: Again, afternoon hockey on a Friday. Really, this doesn't happen often.
The goaltending battle in San Jose this year is going to be fantastic between two Finns, Antero Niittymaki and Antti Niemi. One of them would get a running start in this one. Also, it's the Blue Jackets return for Nikita Filatov.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest HD, MSG Plus HD
Why You Should Watch: Ilya Kovalchuk begins actually earning that $100 million tonight.
The nights' other games, to whet your intermission channel surfing appetite:
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9
Saturday is when things really get going with 24 of the league's 30 teams in action. It's a lot of hockey to take in, but we'll try to point you in the right direction.
TV: Versus HD, TSN HD, NESN HD
Why You Should Watch: Again, the hockey at noon thing. Get the yard work done early.
3 p.m.: Columbus Blue Jackets at San Jose Sharks in Stockholm, Sweden
TV: CBC HD, NHL Network US HD, CSN California HD
Why You Should Watch: This 3 p.m. start gives fans one thing they didn't have with the Versus triple-header on Thursday: the opportunity to watch hockey non-stop from lunch time to after midnight. There might be a small hiatus around 6ish , but by then, you're already getting set for the 7 p.m. starts. Saturday is the day you want to spend on the couch.
7 p.m.: New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals
TV: MSG Plus 2, CSN Washington HD
The evening's other early games.
7 p.m.: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres (MSG HD, MSG Buffalo HD)
7 p.m.: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs (CBC HD)
7 p.m.: Dallas Stars at New York Islanders (TXA 21 HD, MSG Plus HD)
7 p.m.: Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins (CBC HS, RDS HD, FSN Pittsburgh HD)
7:30 p.m.: Atlanta Thrashers at Tampa Bay Lightning (FS South HD, Sun Sports HD)
Your must watch game in the 8 p.m. hour ...
8:30 p.m.: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks
TV: NHL Network HD, FSN Detroit HD, CSN Chicago HD
Why You Should Watch: The Blackhawks will, of course, raise their Stanley Cup prior to Saturday's home opener. Even better, if you enjoy yourself some Hawk, is that they'll be doing it in front of the Red Wings.
Also, two other games starting this hour...
8 p.m.: Philadelphia Flyers at St. Louis Blues (CSN Philly HD, FS Midwest HD)
8 p.m.: Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators (KDOC HD, FSN Tennessee HD)
Okay, now it's late. You've likely had a few beers, you've certainly watched some good hockey. But you've been going since lunch, and admittedly, you're a bit tired. There's one night cap game, a rematch of the Western Conference Quarterfinals from a year ago. It is sure to wake you up.
TV: CBC HD, FS West HD
Why You Should Watch: Why, it's the first game at the newly-named Rogers Arena, of course!
No, really though, this should be the perfect night-capper. Not only is it a rematch of the first round matchup from last playoffs, it's a look at two teams that could seriously make a run at winning the West this season. The Canucks return just about their entire lineup, while the young Kings are a year older and a year more mature.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10
After a busy day Saturday, it's a day of rest on Sunday with only three games planned. Of course, it's Sunday, so you should expect an early start.
10 a.m.: Boston Bruins at Phoenix Coyotes in Prague, Czech Republic
TV: NHL Network Canada HD, NHL Network US HD, NESN HD
Why You Should Watch: When's the next time you're going to be able to watch live hockey at 10 AM on a Sunday?
8 p.m.: Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames
TV: FS West HD, Sportsnet West
Why You Should Watch: It'll be the second game of the Flames season. The Sutters might be in jeopardy of losing their jobs already by this point. It shall be entertaining for this reason along... if you're not a Flames fan.
8 p.m.: Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
TV: FS Florida HD, Sportsnet Edmonton
Why You Should Watch: The Florida Panthers should be interesting this season. They're not going to compete for a playoff spot, but it's the first year where Dale Tallon's fingerprints will really be able to be seen. It'll be fun to watch the team come together, and if Tallon can have the same type of quick success he did with the Blackhawks.