The time is drawing nigh.
Next Wednesday night in Chicago, the New York Rangers will begin their 2015-16 campaign inside a packed house at the United Center and a national television audience watching the season opener against the Blackhawks.
For the Blackhawks, the game will be one more opportunity to celebrate their third Stanley Cup championship in the Jonathan Toews Era. For the Rangers, it will be a harsh reminder of what could have been.
A team with Cup aspirations, the Rangers will be on TV. A lot. And we, your friends at Metro, have an idea which games you absolutely have to catch, be it in person, on TV or through a streaming service:
1. Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets : The home opener comes 24 hours after the first Blue Jackets-Rangers meeting in Columbus. Assuredly, there will be pomp and circumstance greeting the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners. There will also be a fully healthy Blue Jackets squad that added burgeoning power forward Brandon Saad.
2. Tuesday, Nov. 3 vs. Washington Capitals: The first meeting since the Rangers rallied from 3-1 down to eliminate the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division Finals. The Capitals brought in T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams to provide Alex Ovechkin with offensive support.
3. Wednesday, Dec. 2 at New York Islanders: Rangers. Islanders. Do we need to say more? Well, in this case, yes. This game--an 8 PM start for a nationwide television audience--will emanate from the Islanders' new home, Barclays Center. Making it even juicier is that both teams are coming off playoff appearances, and both believe they will be playing hockey in the spring. Oh, did we mention these two teams and their fanbases get along as well as Donald Trump and Jeb Bush?
4. Friday, December 11 at Edmonton Oilers : New York Rangers, meet Connor McDavid. Connor McDavid, meet the New York Rangers. The first overall pick in last June's draft has been labeled a generational talent, and the best player to come into the National Hockey League since Sidney Crosby. Heady praise. Before the game, the Oilers--who are in their last season at Rexall Place before moving into the state-of-the-art Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton for the 2016-17 season--will honor Rangers President Glen Sather, who you may have heard was the coach and general manager of the five-time Stanley Cup champions in the 1980s.
5. Sunday, March 13 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Metropolitan Division rivals will have already played twice at CONSOL Energy Center before they reconvene at the Garden. The Penguins will come in with a revamped lineup with Phil Kessel on Crosby's right side. Oh, yeah, the Penguins will still have Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patric Hornqvist and friends.