DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are not turning heads among NHL teams right now.
They are a team in transition with aging contracts, budding young talent and a list of prospects with unknown potential. To call any of their games on the 2018-19 schedule "must-watch" is a bit of a stretch.
However, if you're a fan of this team then you'll at least want to know about some of the more intriguing games on the schedule, even if these games are nothing less than a chance to see some of the more talented players from around the league.
These are all home games:
Oct. 11 -- Maple Leafs at Red Wings
Of course, the bad blood between these Atlantic Division rivals goes back decades. But now that they're back in the same division with former Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan and former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock running things for the boys in blue, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings rivalry is in full force. At least one of the teams is a contender this year -- you can guess which one.
On Oct. 11, fans at Little Caesars Arena will get a look at John Tavares and Auston Matthews up close. Thanks to the Tavares signing, the anticipation for this Maple Leafs season is as big as it has ever been in the history of the Toronto franchise. It's the perfect time to see the Red Wings upset them early in the season -- it may be the only shot they have at beating Toronto this year, no joke.
Honestly, a Wings-Leafs game in Detroit is way worth the ticket. The Toronto fans will show up in droves, and there will be animosity in the stands. Hopefully no ginger ales get thrown -- not saying that's ever happened before.
Oct. 26 -- Jets at Red Wings
The Winnipeg Jets play the Red Wings twice this season with the first meeting on Oct. 26 in Detroit. The Jets are considered a top contender for Lord Stanley's Cup this season, so you'll probably want to pay attention to them. They have it all: Big-time goal scorers, huge bodies on defense, unmatched speed through the neutral zone, and a really good goalie. That goalie is none other than Michigan native Connor Hellebuyck, who posted a .924 SV% last season. He's pretty good.
The best scenario is the Red Wings win a close game despite huge hits from the giant human known as Dustin Byfuglien and a highlight-reel snipe from Patrik Laine. This a Friday night game, too, which means Little Caesars Arena will be buzzing.
Nov. 3 -- Oilers at Red Wings
Sticking with teams from the Great White North, the
Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid will be in Detroit on Saturday, Nov. 3. McDavid scored 41 goals last year, but that wasn't up to his own standards. This summer he said he is focusing on scoring more this season, which is exactly what the Oilers need. The ticket is worth seeing McDavid in person -- and did I mention it's on a Saturday? A Mickey Redmond special.
Dec. 31 -- Panthers at Red Wings
OK, hear me out on this one. The Florida Panthers aren't exactly the type of team casual hockey fans flock to see. But this is a New Year's Eve game, and the Panthers and Red Wings are somewhat "quiet" rivals now. This will be the second time the teams meet in December this season -- the other game is on Dec. 22 also in Detroit.
These Atlantic Division teams always seem to give each other a good matchup, and Detroit Little Caesars/Plymouth Whalers alumnus Vincent Trochek somehow finds a way to be in the middle of it each time -- he does play center, after all. It's like he's playing with a chip on his shoulder or something when he's back in Detroit. Can't imagine why.
Jan. 6 -- Capitals at Red Wings
The defending Stanley Cup champions will be in Detroit on Jan. 6. I almost switched out this game for the Blackhawks-Red Wings game on Feb. 20, but the Capitals and Red Wings will play a 5 p.m. Sunday game on Jan. 6 while the Blackhawks are in town on a Wednesday.
Anyway, Alex Ovechkin should be fully recovered from his summer party hangover by January. It will be interesting to see how Washington looks this season after making little to no moves this offseason, other than getting a new coach.
So there you have it -- five Red Wings games to watch and/or attend at your own risk.
Why did I stop at five? The world may never know.
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