ESPN’s NHL Games To Watch In The 2009-10 Season (#1 = Basketball)

I always feel bad for Scott Burnside when ESPN forces him to troll out a “Games To Watch This Coming NHL Season” Column like three minutes after the NHL reveals its schedule, partially because we know ESPN secretly doesn’t want us to watch any games ever, but mostly because we won’t know which games have playoff implications until, I don’t know, a little while after July 15th?

Regardless, here are some of Burnside’s Onez II Watch [spelling mine] in ’09-’10:

Oct. 3: Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Speaking of top picks — and troubled franchises, for that matter — the Lightning inherited Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman with the second overall pick, although a number of observers felt Hedman was the best player available in the draft. Hedman in all likelihood will be in the Lightning’s lineup, too, as they try to rebound from a disastrous 2008-09 season.

Whoa-ho-hoaaa!! DVR ALERT!!! Lightning at Thrashers for the first of their eighty-two regular season games!! So much gripping front-office instability!!! This game is actually on my list of Games To Definitely Not Watch in the 2009-10 NHL Season, and my list is only one game long.

Other words to fill out a forced, pointless column games to watch:

Oct. 24
All 30 NHL teams will be in action, marking the second and final time the NHL will feature a full slate of action during the 2009-10 season. The first will be Oct. 3.

See, this is exactly the kind of crap that’s going to inevitably pour out when you squeeze someone to write a pointless column like this. Burnside can’t just keep repeating Chicago/Detroit games so he has to revert to random anomalies like the fact that all 30 teams happen to play on a date in October. What is exceptionally worth watching about October 24th? All fifteen games? Man, the out-of-town scoreboard between periods of the Pens game that I’ll be watching anyway is gonna be SO FULL!!! Who cares?

March 1
First regular season game (Detroit at Colorado) following the Olympic break.

Awesome! Cleanse your palate of that exciting, All-Star Olympic action with a random regular season game between two rusty teams! I can’t wait to see how long it’ll take the third-liners to find their legs! Scintillating.

April 11
The final day of the regular season with eight contests. Wonder how many will have playoff implications?

I wonder that too.  I guess we’ll have to wait until after July frickin’ fifteenth to find that out. But let’s not let that fact stop us from already deciding which NHL games we should keep an eye on in a column written minutes after the NHL schedule came out.

Who would’ve thought Pens/Canes or Pens/Panthers would have been critical matchups before February of last year? I mean, they’re not traditional can’t-miss, always-classic rivalries like Thrashers/Lightning, but they still ended up being worth a peek. But don’t let that stop you from setting your DVR tonight for every game on this list. I’m just gonna Season Pass the Thrashers now to be safe.

April 11
The final day of the regular season with eight contests. Wonder how many will have playoff implications?
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