New York Rangers: October 10
This game will be the fourth of the season for both teams — and the home opener for the Ducks — so for the sake of two points, it better take Alain Vigneault more than three games to figure out his new team. For the first time in his career, Rick Nash will show up in Anaheim wearing the red, white, and blue of the Rangers instead of the . . . red, white, and blue of the Blue Jackets. Whatever. At this point in the season, we'll all still be too busy fuming about the fact that Boudreau started the year playing Winger # 876 with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry instead of Winger # 435 to care about the Rangers.
Ottawa Senators: October 13
A little bit more to give a damn about in this one. Not sure if Bobby Ryan will receive the Paul Kariya treatment or the J-S Giguere treatment. Most likely he'll get a little bit of both. Cheers early on in the game, then boos once he dangles through all five of our players and scores the most spectacular goal in the history of hockey. Then cheers again when Chris Phillips scores on his own goal again to even things up. Oh, and this would be a great time for Jakob Silfverberg to have a really big game. So would Game Seven of next year's Stanley Cup Final, but I'll settle for October 13 against the Sens.
Speaking of Kariya and Giguere, Throwback Night is scheduled for October 13. Maybe it's Selanne (if he returns) who I want to have a big game, then. Just to see that Number 8 green and eggplant score another one.
Buffalo Sabres: November 8
Best case scenario, the Ducks do to the Sabres what they did to them in the first period of a game between these teams in 2010, namely score lots of goals. (That was probably the only memorable Ducks-Sabres game ever, by the way.) Maybe that's too much to ask. Okay, how about someone hits Steve Ott real hard?
New Jersey Devils: November 20
Gotta feel for those Devils fans after the Ilya Kovalchuk debacle, right? Yeah, maybe I'll root for them the day after, when they play the Kings. Regardless, this may be last time Jaromir Jagr plays in Anaheim, so if you've never seen him live, well . . . he's a shadow of his former self, don't blow everything you have on front row seats.
Tampa Bay Lightning: November 22
Gotta be kinda disappointing when you have the top two scorers in the league on your team and you still miss the playoffs, right? And guess what, Lightning fans. Your division is a lot tougher this year than it was last year. Somehow I think this teams needs more than just the addition of Valtteri Filppula to play past 82 games. All I'm hoping for in this game is that when Steven Stamkos inevitably scores (he has 4 goals, 2 assists, and 1 shootout goal in his last four games against the Ducks), it's not the kind of goal that gets shown over and over again.
New York Islanders: December 9
These guys aren't awful anymore. In case you hadn't noticed, John Tavares decided to be one of the best players in the league last year, and a funny looking fellow by the name of Lubomir Visnovsky now mans their blue line. The last time the Isles came to Anaheim, by the way, the Ducks played one of the most exciting games of their relatively unexciting 2011-12 season. Ryan and Getzlaf both scored beautiful goals, and Evgeni Nabokov looked really, really sad when Teemu Selanne scored the game's final goal. Check it out.
Boston Bruins: January 7
Despite the fact that the Ducks rarely ever play the Bruins, this team is coming into Anaheim in January with a pair of perennial Duck killers: Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson. Here's to another round between Iginla and Francois Beauchemin. That, and a Ducks victory. Hopefully by a wide margin. Because every once in a while those obnoxious Bruins fans need to be reminded that the sports world does not orbit around their city.
Detroit Red Wings: January 12
Ugh. These guys again. Good news is that we can now boo Daniel Alfredsson while simultaneously booing the Red Wings. And then we can boo the refs because I don't care what conference Detroit is in, if they're playing the Ducks, I'm going to pretend to believe that the NHL's officiating crew is doing everything they can to make the Wings win.
Two regular season wins against Detroit (the away game is on December 17) won't be nearly enough to make up for even one playoff goal that the Red Wings scored against the Ducks this past May. But it will still be a whole lot better than a couple of losses this year. The part of me that thinks about history and legacy hopes that the Ducks and Red Wings will meet in the Final sometime soon, while both teams still employ familiar faces. But that's not worth thinking about right now. So I'll settle for two regular season wins.