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Top-10 "Can't Miss" Games on the 2013-14 Schedule

by Travis Betts / New York Islanders

NHL realignment and a more balanced schedule in 2013-14 bring more opponents to the Coliseum than years past. Fans can count on seeing familiar foes like the Rangers, Devils and Penguins, as well as new additions to the Eastern Conference like the Blue Jackets and Red Wings. Still, some Western Conference opponents, like the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks, will make their first appearance on Long Island in more than three years.

With the release of the 2013-14 schedule, takes a look at the top-10 regular season home games Islanders fans can’t afford to miss.

September 21 vs. New Jersey Devils

Barclays Center (Getty Images)

Ok, so this isn’t a regular season game, and it’s not at the Coliseum, but that doesn’t mean fans can afford to miss the first ever NHL game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the building the Islanders will call home in the near future. Building staffers are making preparations throughout the summer for the arena to be ready for the landmark event, and with a quick train ride, Islanders fans can get the first glimpse of hockey at the team’s new digs.

Did you know? The Islanders play eight preseason games in eight different venues before the 2013-14 regular season begins.

1. October 5 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013-14 home opener

Sergei Bobrovsky (Getty Images)

One of the Metropolitan Division’s newest teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets, move to the Eastern Conference this season. Led by 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes, Columbus finished one point shy of the top-8 in the West last season despite winning eight of their last nine games.

Did you know? Five of the last eight matchups between the Islanders and Blue Jackets have gone past regulation, with the Islanders going 3-2 in those games.

2. October 29 vs. New York Rangers

Rick Nash (Getty Images)

The best rivalry in hockey

The Rangers make their first trip to the Coliseum two days before Halloween in a game sure to have some thrills. Three of the four matchups between the cross-town rivals were decided in overtime or the shootout last season, including both in Uniondale. Do we really need to say more on an Islanders-Rangers game at the Barn? See you there.

3. November 16 vs. Detroit Red Wings

Welcome to the East

Pavel Datsyuk (Getty Images)

Detroit switches over to the Eastern Conference in 2013-14 riding a streak of 22 consecutive postseason appearances. The Wings gave Chicago its toughest test during the Hawks’ road to the Stanley Cup last spring, pushing the eventual champions to seven games in the Conference Semifinals. Led by two of the world’s top players in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, and joined by former Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit has talent up front that can score goals in bunches.

Did you know? Dating back to the 2008-09 season, the Islanders are 4-0 against the Red Wings.

4. December 3 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Playoff rematch

Sidney Crosby (Getty Images)

The Islanders close a four-game home stand in early December against the team that sent them home for the summer, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders pushed Pittsburgh to six games in their first round playoff series, and with the spiked intensity levels and physicality during the series, don’t expect the Penguins’ first visit back to Long Island to be a friendly one. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin headline a Pittsburgh team that’s still as deep as any in the league.

Did you know? Casey Cizikas’ first career goal came against the Penguins on January 29, 2013.

5. December 28 vs. New Jersey Devils

Happy Hoildays

Jaromir Jagr (Getty Images)

The Devils and their two-headed goaltending tandem of Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider visit Uniondale in late December in the Islanders first game following the NHL’s Christmas break. NHL veteran Jaromir Jagr signed with New Jersey in the offseason, giving the lineup some firepower, and perhaps one more chance for fans to see one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history. The Islanders won the last two meetings against New Jersey in 2013, including a 5-1 triumph on February 16 in which John Tavares recorded his fourth career hat trick.

Did you know? With an all-time record of 117-76-29, the Islanders have a higher points percentage against New Jersey (.592) than any other opponent.

6. January 2 vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The Champs

Patrick Kane (Getty Images)

The first game of the 2014 calendar year pits the Islanders against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Many players from the core of the Cup-winning roster will return in 2013-14, including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford. This matchup will mark the first visit to Nassau Coliseum for this Original Six franchise since December 2011, when the Islanders overcame a two-goal deficit to force overtime on goals by Travis Hamonic and Michael Grabner, but lost 3-2.

Did you know? Billy Smith (Game 2) and Glenn Resch (Game 3) recorded the only back-to-back shutouts in Islanders postseason history against the Blackhawks during the 1979 Quarter-Finals.

7. January 29 vs. New York Rangers

The Cathedral

Derek Stepan (Getty Images)

This one is no doubt already circled on your calendar, but if not, get out the red pen. The teams will meet under the lights of Yankee Stadium as part of the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series for the first outdoor game in Islanders history. Despite the old and new Yankee Stadium holding countless marquee events over the years, January’s festivities will mark the first time NHL hockey has graced the hallowed grounds.

Did you know? The Islanders and Rangers meet three times in an 11-day span in late-January (Jan. 21, 29, 31), with the other two games taking place at Madison Square Garden.

8. February 8 vs. Colorado Avalanche

Off to Sochi

PA Parenteau (Getty Images)

The 2013-14 schedule breaks up for two weeks so that players can participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, so this will be the last chance to catch the Islanders until February 27. This Saturday contest may be the first chance for Islanders fans to catch 2013 No. 1 overall draft selection Nathan MacKinnon. Former Islander PA Parenteau will also make his return to the Island in the Avalanche’s first trip to the Coliseum since October 2010.

Did you know? The Islanders are 6-0-0 at home against the Avalanche dating back to 1998, scoring at least four goals in each contest.

9. February 27 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Welcome back

Phil Kessel (Getty Images)

Did you miss us? Here’s your first chance to take in live hockey following the Olympic hiatus. Toronto area natives John Tavares and Matt Moulson always seem to save their best for the Maple Leafs, combining for nine points (five goals, four assists) in three head-to-head games last season. The two teams have come together for some pretty memorable tilts in recent years, with 12 of their last 30 matchups going to overtime.

Did you know? 18 players in the Islanders system were born in Ontario.

10. April 8 vs. Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson (Getty Images)

Home finale

The last home game before the team hits the road for the final three dates of the regular season. With playoff implications likely on the line for both teams, this Tuesday battle could go down to the wire.

Did you know? The Islanders are 23-11-6 all-time in home finales, including wins in their last two.

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