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Must See of 2012-13

by John Kopp / Philadelphia Flyers
The NHL released the 2012-13 schedule last week amidst a busy stretch filled with trades, rumors and draft selections.

The excitement of the free agency period is just around the bend and soon enough training camps will begin, too.  Those two stages bring various personnel and strategic changes to clubs, but the schedule provides a glimpse into the potential ventures of the season.
So Flyers fans will want to know that there will be plenty of early season home games, an eight-game road trip through much of the Western Conference and a season finale against the New York Rangers. Also, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins pay their first visit to Philadelphia in October.

A lot can – and will – change between now and the beginning of the season, but here are 10 games that might be intriguing to watch:

Oct. 11 vs. Boston: The Flyers open up against the Bruins for the second straight season, though this one is at home. The Flyers spoiled the Bruins’ championship celebration by winning last year’s season opener, 2-1, in Beantown. However, they lost their three remaining games against Boston, including two during shootouts. The Flyers open the season by playing 13 of 19 games at home.

Oct. 27 vs. Toronto:
The Flyers swept the Maple Leafs in the season series last season, continuing a dominant run against Toronto. Dating back to midway through the 2008-09 season, the Flyers have won 12 of their last 15 games against the Leafs.  Former Flyer James van Riemsdyk will be making his first trip to Philadelphia since being traded for Luke Schenn.

Nov. 1 vs. New Jersey: The Devils return to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since eliminating the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Whether they are with familiar faces Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise remains to be seen. Brodeur could retire while Parise, an unrestricted free agent, could sign elsewhere. Either way, the Flyers will play three home games against the Devils before finishing the season series with three in Newark.

Nov. 10 vs. Carolina: The Flyers conclude a home-and-home series with the Hurricanes, who could boast as many as three Staal brothers. Newly-acquired Jordan Staal and his brother Eric are certain to create much fanfare, but if the ‘Canes opt to call up Jared Staal from their minor league system, this might turn into quite the family affair.  They’ll be going against the Flyers’ sibling pair, Brayden and Luke Schenn.

Jan. 3 @ Los Angeles: The Kings don’t make a trip to Philadelphia this season, so this marks the only opportunity for fans to watch the Flyers take on the reigning Stanley Cup champions, affectionately dubbed “Flyers West.” This will mark Jeff Carter’s first appearance against his former team, as he was injured when Columbus came to Philadelphia last season. He’s again playing with Mike Richards, who registered an assist during his return to Philadelphia last year.

Jan. 6 @ Vancouver: The Flyers conclude a season-long, eight-game road trip against the Canucks, who won the President’s Trophy last season but bowed out in the playoffs’ first round. This will be the only time the Flyers see the heralded Sedin twins during the regular season. During last season’s contest, both Henrik and Daniel Sedin tallied goals.
Feb. 2 vs. Detroit: The Red Wings will have a different feel to them when they make their lone trip to Philadelphia. For the first time since the 1991-92 season, they’ll be without longtime defensive stalwart Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired this offseason. That leaves Tomas Holmstrom as the lone Red Wing remaining from the team that dispatched the Flyers in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, though he is reportedly considering retirement.

Feb.9  vs. Edmonton: The Oilers have struggled through the last few NHL seasons, but their woes have landed them the No. 1 pick in the last three NHL Entry Drafts. Each of those players – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov – could be on display in this game. The Oilers are making their first trip to Philly since the 2010-11 season.

March 24 @ Pittsburgh: The Flyers unofficially commence the season’s homestretch with a home-and-home against their archrivals. From this point, they play 11 games in 21 days, including one stretch in which they play three times in four days. Eight of those games are against teams that qualified for the playoffs last season.

April 13 vs. N.Y. Rangers: The Rangers baffled the Flyers throughout all of last season, sweeping the season series behind Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist, who posted a meager 1.83 goals against average. The Flyers hope to have solved the Rangers by the season finale, which always holds the potential to have some type of playoff implications. Who will forget the Flyers’ shootout victory over the Rangers on the final day to clinch a spot in the playoffs?

Which begs the question - which game are you most looking forward to seeing??
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