NHL hockey is back, and at time of writing has yet to be postponed/cancelled. With the divisional shakeups, we wanted to look at what the most exciting match-up is in each division. Which series of games will be most entertaining to watch? Which old rivalries have been reignited? Let’s take a look:
Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames
The Battle of Alberta is the most fierce of all hockey rivalries, in Alberta. Since October 1980, the Edmonton Oilers have been duking it out with the slightly more westerly Calgary Flames. For the record Calgary have the edge historically, and mostly battered the Oilers last season too.
The Flames and Oilers will meet for the first time this season on February 6th, the Flames have a new goalie in Jacob Markstrom. The addition of Markstrom might be a major coup as they pinched him from division rivals Vancouver, however they’re throwing a lot of coin at the Swede and there’s not been much time for the team to gel with their new shot-stopper.
The Oilers on the other hand, have the powerhouse of McDavid and Draisaitl. Both of whom scored a million points last season. The two teams already have a win each to their name, but have also dropped points, showing those vulnerabilities. Expect this series to be a feisty one.
Colorado Avalanche vs Arizona Coyotes
The Avs, in theory, are probably the strongest team in the division, opening night performance not withstanding… Anyway we’re all expecting good things from Carl-orado. The Coyotes however are a wounded animal, they were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Avs, so there’s a point to prove here. Arizona have also blossomed from a team that was only good for burying bad contracts, to a legitimate contender over the past few seasons. It’s not clear why they win games, but they do and are a lot of fun to watch.
Colorado seem to be building for greatness but can’t quite find that consistency that’ll take them back to the cup final. This was displayed well when the team fell 4-1 in their opener to St. Louis, but bounced back to win 8-0 in the repeat fixture. The Coyotes salvaged a loser point in their first game with San Jose, but won at the second time of asking.
The two teams will meet up for the first time on February 9th in Denver.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings
As match-ups go, this is not going to be one that decides which team is going to the cup finals, but the battle of, erm, Michinois? Illigan? Should be a lot of fun. Both teams are fairly evenly matched and both are locked deep in a state of rebuild. For a long time, the Red Wings and Blackhawks weren’t just Original Six rivals, but also divisional rivals. Games between the two teams have always had an extra level of intensity.
Over the last decade, Chicago peaked as Detroit declined, and both teams finished bottom of their respective divisions last season. Chicago has already given up 10 goals to reigning champs Tampa Bay in two games, however they found the back of the net themselves thrice, which is thrice more than Detroit managed in their season opener against Carolina. The Red Wings turned their fortunes around in their second game, winning 4-2.
The two teams will meet up for the first time on January 22nd in Chicago.
New York Islanders vs New York Rangers
The Isles finished the season strong and are a much needed breath of fresh salty sea air in a division recently dominated by Pittsburgh, Boston and of course Washington. Despite being unable to successfully waiver Andrew Ladd, the Islanders are a perfect example of a team that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. OK on paper, better on the ice. This was evident in their opener against the Rangers, which the Isles dominated 4-0.
The Rangers, on the other hand, seem to have nailed that rebuild and despite the above mentioned shaky start, returned the favour in game two with a 5-0 shut-out. Artemi Panarin notched a hat-trick while Pavel Buchnevich notched two goals for himself. The Battle for New York is shaping up to be the be most evenly balanced match-ups in the division. For that reason, it should be a lot of fun to watch.
Which match-ups are you most looking forward to? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter: