Not every game on the NHL schedule is created equal. Blues fans know this. Why do you think they avoid Monday and Tuesday night home games as much as possible? They kill attendance. The Blues only have five this year, but most of them aren't that bad. One is against the suddenly-a-rival-again Vancouver Canucks. One game is between Christmas and New Years. Another brings the Blackhawks to town. That only leaves the Flames and Blue Jackets -- a game that might be more anticipated with the emerging hitfest between Rick Nash and T.J. Oshie.
But only one of those got any consideration as being one of the most anticpated games on the schedule (as much as games in December and January can be anticipated in mid-July). Don't worry, tickets aren't on sale yet, but when they do hit the box office, these are the ones that will probably sell out first.
5. Nov. 21 against the New York Islanders. Another not big rivalry game against an Eastern Conference team. But as long as the Islanders haven't gotten No. 1 overall draft choice John Tavares killed in the first weeks of the season, he should be skating in St. Louis that Saturday night (lots of good Saturday night games this season). During Sidney Crosby's rookie year, the Penguins game in St. Louis on a Thursday night in November was one of the more memorable games of the season.
5. Feb. 13 against the Washington Capitals. Yeah, we start with a tie, but if we're going to say we can't wait for the top draft choice, then we have to mention the gap-tooth Russian who looks like Captain Caveman. Most hockey fans say they like Alexander Ovechkin more than Sidney Crosby and the Blues visit Pittsburgh this year instead of hosting the Cup champs. It's also the last game on the calendar before the Olympic break, so it'll be a tough ticket.
4. Oct. 31 against the Florida Panthers. Now I don't ever remember thinking in my life, "I can't wait for the Panthers to come to town." But the game will be played on Halloween on a Saturday night. Expect in the crowd plenty of naughty nurses and naughty police officers and naughty...well any costume with naughty in front is good. The Drinkscotch Center will be the city's largest pre-party before sending out the well-oiled ghosts and goblins into the haunted night. Should be an interesting time at the game. Plus the joke, "Hey, where's Bouwmeester? I don't see him on the ice" won't get old until at least the third period. I rate this higher for the complete experience over seeing one player come to town.
3. Oct. 8 against the Atlanta Thrashers. The home opener is going to be awesome. Fans will have seen two games against the Red Wings in Sweden. There will be all sorts of anticipation from that plus the fact that the team surprisingly made the playoffs but still has something to prove after the sweep. The baseball team down the street might be in the playoffs making downtown electric. The last few years, opening night has been exciting (we got a mascot! Woot!), but I wouldn't have included it on a summer list of games I'm looking forward to seeing.
2. Jan. 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Saturday night game. Long holiday weekend for everyone. Sunday Jan. 3 will be a day of rest for the liver. Besides that situation, it will somehow be the Hawks' first game of the season in St. Louis, much too long if you ask me. There promises to be many visitors with the Indian head on their guts. Highway 40 might be totally open by then. It promises to be a good time...as long as the Blues haven't had a myriad of injuries and are sitting in the conference basement. Like that could happen two years in a row.
1. Nov. 28 against the Detroit Red Wings. Once again, we pick another Saturday night game and the first visit for a division rival. But it's also the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend. Families will be reunited in their hate of the Dead Things. Plus they'll be without Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky. They'll still have Chris Osgood. The optimism will be flowing alongside the Wild Turkey. Combine the holiday with a Saturday night and the Wings and you've got the ingredients for the best game on the entire Blues schedule.
Honorable Mentions: Feb. 12 with Toronto (blowing out the visitors is always a good time plus we can burn Wendel Clark in effigy!); Nov. 10 with Vancouver (revenge, we want it); Nov. 14 with San Jose (first potential home game with a really good team -- measuring stick game).
That's our list. Tell us what obvious game we missed down below.