Calgary returns of Gaudreau, Tkachuk among must-see games this NHL season

Fans and players always circle games to look forward to when the NHL schedule comes out every off-season. Whether it’s rivalry matchups, stars returning to their former homes or marquee showcases, there are once again plenty of compelling options in 2022-23.

Here’s a look some key games to watch this season.

NHL Global Series

This two-game matchup in Tampere, Finland could serve as a measuring stick for the Blue Jackets this season.

After nabbing Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames in free agency, Columbus got the star it wanted to bolster its team and aim for the playoffs.

Going against the reigning Stanley Cup champions on Nov. 4 and 5 will be an early test for Columbus.

Tkachuk/Gaudreau Return to Calgary

After a career year, Gaudreau informed Flames general manager Brad Treliving he would not be re-signing the night before free agency opened.

That kicked off a retooling of the Calgary roster, with Matthew Tkachuk following his linemate out the door in a blockbuster trade with the Florida Panthers that netted the Flames both Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.

Tkachuk returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome with the Panthers on Nov. 29, while Gaudreau and the Blue Jackets play in Calgary on Jan. 23.

Maurice Returns to Winnipeg

The former Jets head coach will make his return to the Manitoba capital after resigning near the midway mark of last season.

Paul Maurice led Winnipeg to the post-season five times in almost nine years at the helm, including an appearance in the 2018 Western Conference final.

Insisting at the time the Jets needed a new voice, Maurice is now just that for the Panthers, who won last season’s Presidents’ Trophy only to be bounced in the second round of the playoffs.

The Jets host the Panthers on Dec. 6.

Winter Classic

The Pittsburgh Penguins last played in the game in 2011 when they hosted at Heinz Field, while the Bruins’ last appearance was in 2019.

The two rivals are set to go head-to-head at Boston’s Fenway Park on Jan. 2. Pittsburgh will be looking to move to 2-1 in the Winter Classic, while Boston enters with that very record.

Stanley Cup Rematch

The Colorado Avalanche make a Feb. 9 return to the arena where they put an end to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s reign as back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champions.

Although both rosters have new pieces, Tampa and Colorado are expected to contend for the title once again this season. The teams play again five days later in Denver.

Stadium Series

This one is much anticipated for Carolina, which has never played in an outdoor game and saw the event postponed last season due to the pandemic.

With the stage set at Carter-Finley Stadium on the campus of North Carolina State University on Feb. 18, the Hurricanes face a Washington Capitals team that’s 3-0 in outdoor games, with the last coming in 2018.

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