We are in the dog days of summer, particularly if you’re a hockey fan. August is typically a pretty boring month — the free agent frenzy is essentially over, and training camps don’t start until mid-September. This year we do have the Kevin Hayes sweepstakes, but not much else.
If you’re a Los Angeles Kings fan, yes, you can still amuse yourself by seeing where the Stanley Cup is, but the excitement over the team’s second championship in three seasons is well past its peak level. That said, you can at least start to look forward to the upcoming season. It’s never too early to start circling key games on the calendar, and in this low-activity period, we can confidently say there isn’t a better time to start thinking ahead.
Without further ado, here are five games on the LA Kings’ 2014-15 regular season schedule to look at with particularly high anticipation:
Wednesday, October 8, home vs. San Jose
This one is pretty obvious. Not only is it opening night for the Kings, but it’s banner night. The Kings will raise their 2013-14 Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters of the Staples Center just before getting their season started. And the opponent for this momentous evening is fitting: the San Jose Sharks, the Kings’ in-state rival (one of them, at least), who memorably fell to the Kings in the first round of last year’s playoffs after squandering a 3-0 series lead. The Sharks will want to get rid of that bitter taste as soon as they can, while the Kings would love nothing more than to further rattle San Jose’s confidence to start the season.
Wednesday, November 12, at Anaheim
How do you think the Anaheim Ducks’ off-season has been since that embarrassing 6-2 Game 7 loss to the hated Kings on home ice? After finishing first overall in the Western Conference in the regular season, that was not the way the Ducks wanted their season, and Teemu Selanne’s NHL career, to end. You can bet the Ducks will want to make a statement to Los Angeles in the teams’ first regular season tilt in Anaheim — not to say the Kings don’t want to do the exact same thing. While this game is on the road, it’s a pretty easy trip for Kings fans (though that depends on how you feel about So-Cal traffic).
Saturday, November 29, home vs. Chicago
Last year’s Western Conference Final was an absolute classic, and arguably one of the greatest playoff series ever. Two great teams — the Kings and the Blackhawks — 7 games, a fast pace, and relentless tension. It’s fitting that it took a fluky overtime goal in the seventh game to decide this series between the teams that have now combined for the last three Stanley Cup championships. November 29 in Los Angeles marks the first time these two teams will meet since that series.
Tuesday, December 2, home vs. Boston
Few teams in the NHL can play a heavy, physical, punishing game quite as well as the Kings. The Boston Bruins are one of those teams, but fans only get to see this match-up twice a year, and just once in Los Angeles. So circle this date and buckle up for an intense, physical, hard-hitting battle.
Saturday, April 4, home vs. Colorado
The Colorado Avalanche are a young, exciting, up-and-coming team. Will the loss of Paul Stastny to free agency hurt their chances of duplicating their surprising Central Division regular season championship from last season? By April, we should have a better idea, but much will still be up in the air in terms of the playoff race, and the Avs and Kings will each likely be jockeying for a better position at the very least. This game will have high entertainment value as well as key playoff implications.