The home opener is just two months away for the Boston Bruins.
Causeway Street will be open for business on October 8 against the Winnipeg Jets as the club looks to start their 2015-16 season on the right foot. TD Garden was a fortress last season for Boston as they went 24-10-7 in their 41 home matchups. It was the second-most wins by a non-playoff team (Los Angeles; 25) and was the eighth-best home record in the NHL.
This season’s home slate features some tantalizing matchups with old friends while well-publicized rookies will make their maiden voyage to Boston as well. Here are five home games to circle on your calendar for the upcoming season.
November 27 v. New York Rangers
The Black Friday matinée is back in Boston after a one-year absence.
The Bruins will don their “Men in Black” uniforms once again the day after American Thanksgiving to take on the New York Rangers. These Original Six rivals will take center stage on NBC as Boston gets their traditional Friday afternoon game back.
It was an odd feeling for many in the city to watch their hometown team play against the Jets at night after Turkey Day last season; but that is what the schedule makers decided on. The Bruins have fared well recently in Black Friday games with back-to-back victories against Winnipeg last season and the Rangers in 2013.
It will be a tense battle on the ice to wake up those still in a food coma from Thanksgiving Day.
December 14 vs. Edmonton Oilers
The Connor McDavid road show will make its lone stop in Boston on December 14 as the Edmonton Oilers come calling.
The first overall pick in June has been the talk of the NHL and is looking to give fans reason for optimism in Oil Country after the Oilers finished with the third-worst record last year. The perennial laughing-stock of the league will look to change their fortunes after old friend Peter Chiarelli traded for defenseman Griffin Reinhart and goaltender Cam Talbot, while signing Andrej Sekera to shore up a bad blue line.
The Bruins have owned the Oilers lately going 9-0-1 in their last 10 games. Edmonton will be no pushover this season with all their improvements under Chiarelli, who should get a positive reception from the Garden Faithful after constructing the Stanley Cup championship squad of 2011.
December 26 vs. Buffalo Sabres
Boston hockey fans will get a belated Christmas present from hometown kid Jack Eichel.
The Buffalo Sabres come to town for the first time the day after Christmas this year. The North Chelmsford native is the new face of the Sabres franchise and a key cog in Buffalo’s rebuilding project under General Manager Tim Murray.
Eichel honed his trade on Commonwealth Avenue at Boston University last season scoring 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in just 40 games. That performance earned him the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top college hockey player.
Boston went 3-0-1 against their Atlantic Division rivals last year but things will be much more competitive with Eichel and offseason acquisition Ryan O’Reilly in the fold.
February 9 vs. LA Kings
Milan Lucic spent the first eight seasons of his professional career wearing the eight-spoked B proudly on his chest before an offseason trade sent him to Los Angeles.
Thanks to the Bruins organization for the last 8 years of my life and most of all thank you fans. I will miss you dearly. #bostonstrong
— Milan Lucic (@27MilanLucic) June 26, 2015
The 27-year old will make his return to Boston in February as the Kings come to town. Lucic was adored for his physicality and willingness to drop the gloves through 566 games in the Black and Gold.
However, many felt a change of scenery was necessary after a tough 2014-15 campaign. Lucic looked like a shadow of the guy who scored 30 goals and recorded 121 penalty minutes back in the Cup year of 2011.
Regardless, Lucic should receive a hero’s welcome when he takes to the ice for his first shift that night.
April 9 vs. Ottawa Senators
The last game of the season may have a lot on the line for the Bruins.
Boston will host the Ottawa Senators in Game 82 in a potential “win and you’re in” matchup. These two clubs fought tooth and nail down the stretch for a wild-card spot last season and may do the same this year.
In their five-game season series last year, the Black and Gold went 2-1-2 against the club from Canada’s capital. Their one regulation loss on March 19 ended up being the four-point swing that got Ottawa into the playoffs while kicking Boston out.
The Bruins look to be in a dogfight once again for a playoff spot and will be keen to exact revenge on Ottawa in the final game of the season which may carry massive implications for both clubs.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW