Eight dates to watch on the 2014-15 NHL schedule, from opening night to the closing of Nassau Coliseum

Rory Boylen
Nassau Coliseum

The NHL released its schedule Sunday night and THN’s Ryan Kennedy already looked at who has the easiest, and hardest, schedules ahead of them.

But what about important dates? We take a look at eight dates to watch, from opening night to the possible last game at Nassau.

Wednesday Oct. 8, 2014 – The return of NHL hockey. And we get it kicked off with some big-time rivalries. Montreal visits Toronto, Philadelphia goes into Boston and Calgary hosts Vancouver. But the big moment will be the Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony in Los Angeles. And who are the Kings hosting that night? Why, none other than the San Jose Sharks, who blew a 3-0 first round series lead against Los Angeles. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

Thursday, Dec. 4 2014 – Snubber visits the snubbed. So Willie Desjardins chose to coach the combusting Canucks over the star-laden Penguins, eh? Well, he’ll take his team into Consol Energy Center in December against whoever the Penguins’ second or third choice is. We’ll have a good idea by this point in the schedule whether the Canucks are salvageable in the post-Tortorella era, or if they really are in a free-fall.

Thursday, Jan. 1 2015 – The Winter Classic. Washington will host Chicago, but we don’t know where yet. Camden Yards, home of MLB’s Baltimore Orioles? Nationals Park, home of MLB’s Washington Nationals? FedEx Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Football Club?

Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015 – The Return of Roberto Luongo. This will be the first trip to Vancouver for Florida since the Panthers acquired the goalie from Vancouver last March. It’s fair to say Luongo had a hot and cold relationship with Canucks fans and we can only imagine his reaction on Twitter if he wins this game. What will the reception for him be like? Cheers? Jeers? Better be cheers. This night will also be the first of two games between the 2014 Stanley Cup finalist Rangers and Kings.

Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 – The last time the New York Rangers traveled to San Jose, they got torched by the Sharks and, especially, Tomas Hertl. The 2013-14 rookie scored four goals that game and took a lot of heat for his between-the-legs tally on the last goal. That prompted Joe Thornton to talk about what he’d do if he ever scored four in a game. Let’s hope he doesn’t do that in this game…or ever.

Saturday-Sunday, January 24-25, 2015 – The return of the All-Star Game. A lockout and the Olympics have spared NHL fans from an All-Star Game the past two years, but it will return in all its sleepy glory this year. Columbus is the worthy host of the big event and we’ll get to see if Zdeno Chara still has the league’s hardest slap shot, or whether the young whipper-snapper Shea Weber has eclipsed him. I’m looking more forward to that than the game itself.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 – It’s not official yet, but it appears the NHL will host its second California outdoor game and that it will happen on this day between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The first one was such a success we can’t wait for Part 2.

Saturday, April 11 2015 – This is the last day of the regular season and every team will be playing. Maybe we’ll see some do-or-die games in heated playoff races. If the Islanders once again end up in the draft lottery, this will be their last game at Nassau Coliseum and it will come against the pesky Columbus Blue Jackets. Brooklyn and Barclays will be right around the corner when this date hits.

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