We are now four short days away from regular season Jets hockey and this season has had more anticipation behind it than any other season of Winnipeg NHL hockey ever. The possibility is high for a long playoff run if not a claiming of the ultimate prize.
The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint and the grind will sometimes feel like a never ending series of games where it will be just “one of 82 on the schedule” but there will be some games more notable than others and that Jets fans should already be anticipating at least in the first half of the season…
October 11 @ Nashville Predators
Sure, opening night on the October 4 against an offensively improved St. Louis Blues club is pretty important, but that kind of goes without saying right? It’s really the first of four meetings between the Jets and Predators on the season that we should have our eyes on as both teams are set to rule the top of the Central division again this season. Last season the Jets went 2-3-0 against Nashville before turning the tables on them in the playoffs and won a thrilling seven game series that went the distance. The common theme in all 12 games the teams played was they were entertaining and featured a ton of skill on both sides.
October 24 vs Toronto Maple Leafs
It always feels special when the Leafs come into Winnipeg being an Original Six club with a ton of history and a fan base that has
infected reaches parts of Manitoba and all of Western Canada. The last couple of seasons have also seen it grow into an individual battle of the number one and two overall picks of the 2016 NHL Draft with Auson Matthews on one side and Patrik Laine on the other. But this season the Leafs come in as the other team from Canada mentioned in the same breath as the Jets for having realistic Stanley Cup aspirations this season. The hype for both of these teams is so real that it’s featured as a “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game that will be shown on NBCSN – the only all-Canadian matchup the American sports network will show this season.
November 1 @ Florida Panthers
Game one of two in Finland as part of the NHL Global Series of games against the Panthers. Technically this counts as a road game for the Jets but with the likes of hugely popular Laine as well as Kristian Vesalainen in the lineup – not to mention the very Finnish looking / colored alternate jerseys and the history the Jets have with other famous Finn all-stars like Teppo Numminen and teemu Selanne – the Jets could be the local favorites even with Aleksander Barkov wearing the captain’s C for the Panthers. Both games take place in Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland with 1 PM CST start times… Sounds like a perfect excuse to take a couple of afternoons off from work!
December 31 @ Edmonton Oilers
Last New Year’s Eve, the Oilers were starting to feel a little more confident having won a stretch of games before the Christmas break and a playoff spot didn’t seem completely out of reason at that point. The Jets marched in and proceeded to score early and often and closed out 2017 with a 5-0 pasting of the Oilers that really was the beginning of their end. This season may be a bit different as the Oilers… Or it could be all the same as it is the Oilers after all. Either way, it should be an entertaining game for Jets fans.
January 15 vs Vegas Golden Knights
We don’t really need to hype a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals do we? The only thing that that is kind of crazy about this is that we have to wait this long into the schedule for the rematch and it comes a few games after the half-way point of the season. Both teams look to be as strong as they were in the playoffs, and we could easily be looking at a preview of 2019’s Western Conference Finals as well. It’s also the Knights and forward Paul Stastny’s lone visit to Winnipeg and fan reaction to him should be quite interesting.
Do you have any games on the schedule you’re looking forward to? Maybe the Jets first Saturday night contest at home against the Coyotes on October 20, or November 14 when Alex Ovechkin and the defending champion Washington Capitals visit Winnipeg? Let us know in the comments below!