By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We don’t know what the makeup of the Bruins’ roster will be in October.
Right now, we don’t know what the rosters of any of the other 29 teams will look like after the summer shopping season either.
But we now know who the Bruins will be playing over the course of 82 games next season, when they’ll attempt to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs after two years of failing to qualify. The NHL on Tuesday released the complete 2016-17 NHL schedule, which features four outdoor games (none involving the Bruins), an All-Star Break in late January to play a game in Los Angeles and an extra one-week break for every team (the Bruins will take theirs in mid-February).
Given the uncertainties of what the teams will look like once the season rolls around, it’s difficult to get too excited about any of the games on the schedule. Nonetheless, with the help of a crystal ball (which may or may not be working right), here’s a look at five games on the schedule that might be particularly worth the price of admission:
Oct. 15 at Toronto
The home debut of presumptive No. 1 draft pick Auston Matthews will make Air Canada Centre erupt, and who better for Matthews to wow the crowd against than the Bruins’ defense corps? Boston keeps the game tight but when Matthews maneuvers between Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman, reunited by general manager Don Sweeney’s summer trading spree, the rookie scores the game-winner with 30 seconds left and Toronto grabs a hold of first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-3 win.
Nov. 7 vs. Buffalo
Harvard product and Boston native Jimmy Vesey decided to join forces with Boston University product Jack Eichel in Western New York and here’s the “Boston Bros” line’s chance to stick it to the Bruins in their TD Garden debut as a duo. They combine for six points in a 5-2 Buffalo win.
Nov. 22 vs. St. Louis
Bruins defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk gets his first chance to face his old team. He’s plus-2 and Boston wins in a shootout despite two goals from St. Louis center Ryan Spooner, who was part of the package Boston shipped out for Shattenkirk.
Dec. 15 vs. Anaheim
The return of Loui Eriksson, who signed a five-year, $36 million contract with the Ducks in the offseason. Or maybe this game will be replaced by Dec. 20, when Eriksson comes back to Boston with the New York Islanders. Or maybe Eriksson returns with the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 14 or Jan. 24 with the Detroit Red Wings or Feb. 11 with the Vancouver Canucks. The point is, Sweeney should get Eriksson signed soon or one of previously mentioned games is going to be a loss with Eriksson recording a hat trick.
April 8 vs. Washington
The Bruins again finish their season on home ice. Needing just one point to get into the playoffs, Malcolm Subban fills in for the sick Tuukka Rask and shuts out the Capitals in a 1-0 shootout loss (including a big save in the shootout on Loui Eriksson?). Boston backs into the playoffs, but gets in where we know “anything can happen.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.