It may still be August, but the NHL season is getting closer. The NHL released each team’s schedule the day before the NHL Draft last month, and the Penguins have a little bit of a different schedule to look forward to. Between now playing Philly and Washington three times each this season and playing in the Winter Classic. There is much to look forward to in the 2022-23 season. Here’s a look at the top games I think the Penguins have this season. Also, these are just in order of how they are on the schedule, not the level of importance.
#1: October 13th vs. ARI (Home)
The Penguins will kick off their 2022-23 season at home versus the Coyotes. The Penguins are 30-12-0 all-time against the Coyotes/Jets franchise at home and 7-0-0 since they became the Arizona Coyotes. Even though it isn’t guaranteed, the odds look good. The Penguins will start their 2022-23 season off with a win seeming as if the Penguins have the Coyotes’ number at home, and with the fact that ARI has one of the worst rosters on paper in the entire league.
#2: October 15th vs. TBL (Home)
The second game of the Penguins’ season has them taking on last year’s Eastern Conference Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning made it to their third straight Stanley Cup Final and lost to the Colorado Avalanche. The Penguins are 31-12-4 all-time against the Bolts at home, and it will be a great game to watch. Stamkos and Kucherov vs. Crosby and Malkin is always a show.
#3: October 22nd vs. CBJ (Away)
This game starts a five-game road trip for the Penguins, the longest time away from home during the season. This is also the Penguins’ first time with the new-look Blue Jackets with Johnny Gaudreau. This game is one of the most popular away games for Penguins fans to attend, so I’m expecting a packed sea of black and gold at Nationwide Arena for this game. Not to mention, the Penguins are 13-6-4 at Nationwide Arena all-time against the Blue Jackets.
#4: October 28th vs. VAN (Away)
During the five-game road trip, the Penguins make a stop in Vancouver. The only notable thing about this trip is that it’ll be their first game against the Canucks with former Penguins management Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford. Allvin, the current Canucks GM, worked for the Pens for 16 years in several different management and won 3 Stanley Cups with the franchise. Rutherford, the President of Hockey Operations, was a 2x Stanley Cup Champion as GM of the Penguins and won the Jim Gregory GM of the Year award with the Pens in 2016.
#5: November 25th vs. PHI (Away)
The Penguins typically play two games in Philly each year, but only having one game out in Eastern PA could make this a more popular away game for Penguins fans to attend, as well as Flyers fans, as it will be their only opportunity to boo and scream obscene language at their favorite player Sidney Crosby in their house during the season. The Penguin’s lone game in Philly this year comes on November 25th. This lone game is probably good for the Pens, as the Penguins are 40-96-7 all-time in Philly. The Penguins also don’t play the Flyers again until March 11th, which is in Pittsburgh.
#6: December 20th vs. NYR (Home)
The Penguins’ first matchup against the New York Rangers, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season, is in Pittsburgh before Christmas. This matchup will circulate on the calendar for Penguins fans and players. The Pens are 71-53-6 against the Rangers at home all-time and are looking for revenge from Round 1. Also, the Penguins’ playoff public enemy Jacob Trouba was recently named captain of the Rangers, which could add a more interesting dynamic to this game; after all, Trouba was the player who knocked out Captain Sidney Crosby in game 5. After that, the Penguins don’t play the Rangers again until March 12th, when the Pens and Rangers play each other three times in six days, once in Pittsburgh and twice at MSG. Either way, the Penguins-Rangers game will be an exciting Metropolitan matchup.
#7: January 2nd vs. BOS (Away)
The Penguins only have one game in Boston this season, and the good news is that it is not at TD Garden, where the Penguins are 28-72-4 all-time. The Penguins’ lone game in Boston is at Fenway Park for the 2023 NHL Winter Classic. The Penguins are 2-3 all-time in outdoor games and 1-1 in Winter Classics. The last outdoor game the Pens competed in was a Stadium Series game against the Flyers in 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field, in which the Penguins lost 4-3 in overtime. The last Winter Classic the Penguins played had the Pens losing to the Washington Capitals 3-1 at Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium, and yes, I’m not too fond of it).
That game is notable for Sidney Crosby getting blindsided by Caps forward David Steckel and getting a severe head injury that kept him out for an entire calendar year. The Bruins are 3-1 in outdoor games and 2-1 in three Winter Classic games. The latest outdoor game the Bruins played was a 7-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Lake Tahoe in 2021, and their last Winter Classic was a 4-2 win at Norte Dame against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019. The Bruins hosted a Winter Classic at Fenway Park already in 2010, which was a 2-1 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
#8: January 5th vs. VGK (Away)
The Penguins will head to Vegas to take on the Golden Knights on January 5th, which is always a popular and great game. Things will be different since former Penguins goaltending icon Marc-Andre Fleury no longer plays there, but these two teams usually put on a good match, no matter who is in goal. The Penguins are 2-2 in 4 games at T-Mobile Arena, and it’s the only time (as usual) that the Penguins head out to Vegas this season.
There you have it! My list of the top games in terms of storylines or pure entertainment is complete. I hope you enjoyed reading this list, and I strongly recommend trying to make it to at least one of these games this season.