With the 2010-2011season schedule officially announced by the NHL, it's time to start figuring out what matches you've got circled on your calendar. The ones you've just got to be in the building for, no matter what.
Here's a few of mine, and you'll be seeing the rest of the Cannon team putting theirs up in the next day or two.
1) Tuesday, November 2nd - Montreal
Every time the Jackets play the Habs, we seem to get an exciting game out of it, from Pazzy's record setting shutout on Bob Gainey night at the Bell Centre to Derrick Brassard's sick shootout winner against Jaroslav Halak. This year should be no exeception, and I expect the game to be well attended and loud despite being a weekday night thanks to the well traveling fans of the bleu blanc et rouge.
2) Saturday, December 4th - Pittsburgh
We've started to get a least a bit of a rivalry with the Pens in the last few years - both teams seem to get up for these games, and the Jackets have played some of their best hockey versus the former Stanley Cup champs. Pens fans always flock in big numbers, making it an exciting game to be in the stands for, especially if you're like me and you tend to cheer your lungs out during a game. Expect a lot of back and forth scoring on the ice, and back and forth chanting from the competing fans!
3) Friday, December 31st - Ottawa
Regardless of what happens with Jason Spezza, the New Years Eve games are always fun, and Ottawa should be a good test for the Jackets. They've had to play a more upbeat style, so expect a lot of races for the puck and up-tempo hitting. It'll also be nice to see Pazzy back in town for the first time since he was traded. WIll he have earned back the starter's spot, or will it be Brian Elliott in the pipes? (Fun fact: Columbus has always taken at least a point from the NYE game. Let's hope we can start the new year right with a big win.)
4) Saturday, April 9th - Buffalo
I wouldn't be shocked if once again, a playoff berth depends on a big late season push. The last two years, playoff seeds were up in the air until the last day for the West, and I doubt this year will be any different. This is the first time I can remember that we've finished the season against an Eastern team - most years its' a divisional opponent, or at least a team from within the West. Depending where the Jackets are in the standings, this could be a really interesting game to end the regular season on - particularly if one or both teams only needs one point to clinch a playoff spot...
So, let's hear it - what games are you looking forward to this year? Any teams you're particularly hoping to see walk out of Nationwide with their tails between their legs?