Monday, July 20, 2009

7 games to watch in 2009-10

October 1st vs. Washington - All eyes will be on this opening night matchup of Eastern Conference contenders. Expect a huge amount of media attention and a sloppy, entertaining game. This is also the first matchup in a neat home-and-home -- the Bruins visit the Caps on April 11 to end the season.

November 3rd @ Detroit - It's been years since the Bruins visited the Motor City. Last season their home win against the Red Wings signalled a shift from also-ran into contending status; this game could also be a turning point in the Bruins' season.

December 4th @ Montreal - Montreal's official Centennial Game will close a disastrous commemorative year. Boston has played a huge role in spoiling the Habs' celebrations, from their Patrick Roy Day victory to an ignominious playoff sweep. It would be sweet to win this one, and flip one final bird to the Habs' Year of Self-Congratulation.

January 1st vs. Philadelphia - No extra hype necessary.

February 13th @ Florida - Leading into the Winter Olympics break, Boston plays four road games in six days: divisional matches in Buffalo and Montreal, then a game in Tampa and one in Miami. That's a brutal road trip leading into the 3-week break, especially since all four have the potential to be embarrassing upsets. This game will set the tone for the stretch run.

March 16th @ Carolina - Like the Florida game above, this will be the end of a grueling road trip that features games against 5 of the 8 Eastern playoff teams from 2009. Especially important is the Carolina game, which allows for a true measure of Boston's progress from last season. This one comes 24 hours after a game in Newark, and two days before the Bruins host the defending champs.

April 5th @ Washington - While I could as easily have picked the season-finale in Washington less than a week later, this game is the one I'll be watching most closely. The Caps have an opportunity to punch the Bruins in the mouth, and establish themselves as king of the hill before the playoff rush begins. I would compare this matchup to the Habs game last April 9, which devolved into blatant message-sending on both sides. If it's going to happen between Washington and Boston, it'll probably be in this game rather than their final contest.

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Pezell said...

I'm shocked you didn't have the 10/3 game against Carolina up there based on the playoffs.

Tom said...

Thought about it. Scott Walker's return should certainly be an interesting scene. Interesting to see so many key games against Carolina and Washington -- could this be the Southeast finally integrating into the NHL mainstream?

Pezell said...

I hope so, they've been a pretty dead conference for a number of years now yet the conference has had two recent Stanley Cup Champions. Figure that one out!

Part of me hopes that Florida finally turns around that sad sack of a franchise and last year they were in the right direction with 93 points.

There is still no hope for Atlanta and Tampa though.

Tom said...

The Bouwmeester situation really screwed the Panthers, who I expected to make the playoffs last year. There's not enough recognition of the incredible talent in that organization right now, just needing a few veteran mentors and a decent coach to unlock their potential. And Vokoun is hands-down the most underrated goalie in the league.

But now that JBo has jumped ship, it's hard to imagine them improving this season. What a disappointment and a tragedy for the few who have been faithful to them over the years.