If there’s one thing that Bruins fans can agree upon prior to the 2021-2022 season, it’s their excitement to not have to play mostly Metropolitan Division opponents (and the Buffalo Sabres, of course) what seems like every game of the season.
Having to watch the Bruins play the New Jersey Devils 8 times last season was simply unbearable (even more so when the Devils went 5-1-2 against Boston).
Thankfully, the upcoming NHL season will see the league returning to its normal division alignment and a schedule that sees each team face off against every other team in the league at least twice.
With this return to normalcy, it also means Bruins’ fans will get to see a lot of opposing stars that they missed last season. This includes superstars like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, and Patrick Kane, former Bruins like Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, and Tyler Seguin, and players the Bruins have never played against like Kirill Kaprizov and Cole Caufield.
With Game 1 of the 2021-2022 NHL season just a couple of weeks away, which player are you most excited to see the Bruins face off against?
Let’s take a look at some great candidates:
Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
The reigning NHL MVP can create must-see moments every time he’s on the ice.
Blessed with blinding speed and ridiculous hands, McDavid may be the most exciting hockey player in the NHL.
Though he’s only faced the B’s seven times in his NHL career, he does have 11 points, including this beauty:
An added bonus when watching the Oilers is seeing McDavid’s partner-in-crime in action: Leon Draisaitl, the 2020 Hart Trophy winner.
Matchups (2 games): November 11th & December 9th
Nathan McKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
Like McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon possesses speed and skill most players can only dream of having.
If you’re unfamiliar with MacKinnon’s recent offensive prowess, over the last four years he’s recorded 354 points in 273 games, good enough for 3rd overall during that time (13 points ahead of Brad Marchand who’s 4th).
MacKinnon not only has the talent to thrive in the NHL, but he also brings an intensity and work ethic that you don’t always see in a superstar.
He drops the gloves from time-to-time too, with 5 career NHL fights.
MacKinnon, like McDavid, also brings some pretty talented teammates to play with every night that make the Avs a fun team to watch.
Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen are among the league’s best young stars, and they’ve also got Mr. Nazem Kadri, a player everyone loves to hate.
Matchups (2 games): December 23rd & January 26th
Torey Krug (St. Louis Blues)
If Boston fans were robbed of one thing from the 2021 NHL season, it was not being able to see former Bruin Torey Krug play his against his old club.
As we’re all familiar, Krug left the Bruins in the previous off-season as a free agent to sign with the hated St. Louis Blues.
And while there really isn’t any bad blood with Krug leaving for a well-deserved pay day, it’s still going to be fun to watch him tangle in the corners with old buddy Brad Marchand.
It’s also going to be interesting to see the reaction he’s given when he returns to Boston to play as a St. Louis Blue.
While in this author’s opinion, he deserves a nice round of applause and possibly a thank you video, don’t be surprised if there are still some fans who hold hard-feelings again Krug for signing elsewhere.
Matchups (2 games): April 12th & April 19th
Zdeno Chara (New York Islanders)
Even though the Bruins got to see their fair share of Big Z with Washington last year in the regular season and post-season, it’ll still be interesting to see Chara playing for the Islanders next season. After all, the guy was captain of the Bruins for 14 seasons.
It will be interesting to see what role he plays on the Isles as well. Some analysts have mentioned that he may be paired up with young Noah Dobson, in hopes that Chara can mentor him as he did with Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy.
One thing you can assume about Chara’s role on the Islanders is that he’ll be a major pain in the butt for the Bruins’ power play next season, on an already pretty good defensive team.
Just in case you forgot about Chara’s time in Boston:
Matchups (3 games) December 16th, March 22nd & March 26th
Tom Wilson (Washington Capitals)
Another guy the Bruins got to see plenty last year but is always a “fan favorite” among fans is Tom Wilson.
There’s lots of bad blood between Wilson and the Bruins that really reached its pinnacle last season, when Wilson delivered a blatant headshot to Brandon Carlo, causing him to miss ten games.
Then there’s also the feud that’s been going on with him and Trent Frederic as well. After two spirited bouts between the two last season, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the two square off again this upcoming season.
Any time there’s this animosity between one player and another team, its always interesting to see what happens when the teams play each other.
Matchups (3 games): January 10th, January 20th & April 10th
Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild)
The 2021-2022 season will also give Bruins fans their first chance to see Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild.
Kaprizov had a lot of hype coming to the NHL as a 23 year old from the KHL, and to say he lived up to the hype would be an understatement.
In his rookie year, Kirill “the Thrill” Kaprizov led all first-year players in goals (27), points (51), and shots on net (151) in 55 games.
But it’s not just his stats that were outstanding: Kaprizov plays with tenacity and seemingly tries to dominate the puck every time he steps on the ice. Combined with his highlight goals, he’s also not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals, and will throw his body around, despite being just 5’9”.
For Wild fans, they haven’t had this much excitement about a young player since Marian Gaborik joined the team in 2000.
Highlights for Kaprizov’s debut season:
Matchups (2 games): January 6th & March 16th
OK, so the Kraken aren’t one single player, but fans across the league are excited to see the Seattle Kraken play their inaugural season in the NHL.
For fans, it will also be interesting to see Seattle’s manifestation of NHL hockey.
What type of game will the team try to play game in and game out? What is their pre-game ceremony going to look like? What song is played when the Kraken score? What kind of atmosphere will their home arena have?
There are certainly lots of unknowns around this team, which only adds to the excitement of watching them play this season against the Bruins.
Matchups (2 games): February 1st & February 24th
While there are certainly some exciting players to look forward to seeing play against the Bruins this year, most fans are probably more excited for the B’s to get back to playing their divisional rivals: it’s been far too long since we have seen the Bruins play the Canadiens, Leafs, and Lightning.
Anyone else you’re most excited to see play Boston this upcoming season?