On Thursday, it was announced that the NHL had reached an agreement to allow its players to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Although this agreement had been expected for quite some time, its announcement brought forth the release of the 2013-14 regular season schedule. For all of you that are worried about transitioning back to the full 82 game schedule, fear not, this season will feature a February vacation. The NHL will break from February 9th to 25th, giving fans everywhere a chance to regroup before the playoffs. Aside from that break, there will be no shortage of hockey from October to April. If for some reason you are unable to watch every single Anaheim Ducks’ game this season, here is a list of the five that you should work into your schedule.
The wait for Bobby Ryan’s return to Anaheim is a short one. The Senators visit Anaheim only five games into the regular season, and only a few days following the Ducks’ home opener. This is part one of the two-game series between these teams this season, though this game is the more must-see game for Ducks’ fans, as the crowd’s reaction to Bobby Ryan should be interesting to say the least.
After the Red Wings eliminated them from the playoffs last season, this is the Ducks’ first opportunity to get some revenge. The Red Wings came back from a 3-2 deficit in the first round of the playoffs to upset the Ducks, and then proceeded to move to the Eastern Conference. Thanks to re-alignment, the Ducks will get two cracks at the Red Wings this season, and they will look to kickoff this series on the right foot on the road in Detroit.
This game will take place at Dodger Stadium as part of the Stadium Series. The outdoor hockey gimmick loses a little bit of its luster as these games become more common (also when they are taking place in a warm climate), but there are plenty of other reasons to watch this game. These are two playoff teams that are division rivals and neighbors, and this will take place directly in the middle of their season series. Additionally, with the largest crowd of the season on hand, both teams will have a great deal to prove to themselves, each other, and the fan base split between the two cities.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions finally make their way to Anaheim just before the Olympic break. This will be the Ducks final home game before the break, so they will look to close it out on a high note by knocking off the best. This will be a measuring stick game, and with only a few weeks after the break before the trade deadline, it will be critical for Bob Murray and his staff to know where they stand.
With only one regular season game remaining after this matchup, there will be a great deal on the line for both teams. Playoff berths could be on the line, as could home ice advantage, making this game critical. Some teams will rest key players as the season winds down to help prepare for the playoffs, but with these two teams being playoff contenders, that opportunity won’t present itself for this game. This game could lay the ground work for an incredible playoff series down the road, so you really don’t want to miss this one.