Thanks to the magic of the Center Ice package, a DVR and a patient wife, here are three games I’ll be watching tonight and why.

*****

Winnipeg Jets vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Why: Two major reasons, both of which our boy Sean Leahy discussed over at Puck Daddy earlier today:

This is the first time that Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd return to the Madhouse on Madison since being traded (weeks after helping them win a Cup). I’m not sure what to expect, but I know that’s worth watching.

I expect a nice ovation for both of them, two guys who left on good terms that the fans didn’t want to see leave. Helping an organization win a Cup will do that.

On top of that, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews is a Winnipeg boy and was a Jets fan growing up – I feel like that should lead to a few good quotes from him. Although as soon as I type that, it looks wrong and I realize it probably won’t.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Sometimes a guy just has to work in picture of this penguin. Seemed relevant.

Why: Well, this is the easy one, right?

Since the lockout, there really hasn’t  been a better rivalry. They’re both star studded rosters with Cup hopes once again. That, and I’d watch any game that Ovy plays. Especially when it’s Ovy plus Malkin plus Semin plus Stall plus Backstrom plus Letang plus Green plus… plus…

The teams openly dislike each other – there’s no better hockey than when the hate is legit.

Also, I’m looking forward to see if Vokoun can bounce back in his second appearance, or if he’s going to fall out of Boudreau’s favour this early in the year. (No matter how he plays tonight, he needs to be given more than two games, but I could see the panic move to temporary backup happening).

Edmonton Oilers vs. Minnesota Wild

This is a sneaky good game, not because these are two terrific teams, but because one of them is probably going to be a playoff team (yes, I know I picked both teams to miss). I’m excited to see which of them starts to ascend towards league-wide respect.

The biggest reason though, is that there aren’t many teams I’d rather watch than the Edmonton Oilers, and I hate the Oilers (Isles bias, remember). For one team to have that many disgustingly talented young kids is unfair, and silly to watch.

I’ll never be surprised by an outcome of one of their games, win or lose by 17. Yet every time I watch them play, I find something to be surprised about. They can be as good or bad as any team on any given play, it seems.

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So join me. You can follow me on Twitter to chat while the games are going on!