2021-22 NHL schedule: Bruins fans should circle these dates on calendar

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Bruins fans should circle these dates on 2021-22 NHL schedule originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins' schedule for the 2021-22 NHL regular season has been revealed, so now it's time to look over the 82 games and determine which ones deserve extra attention.

There are a bunch of them this season, primarily because the league has gone back to its normal divisional alignment. As a result, the Bruins will play every team in the league at least twice, including three or more games against each divisional opponent such as the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning -- all of whom the B's didn't play in 2020-21.

Here are a bunch of dates that Bruins fans should circle on their calendars after the 2021-22 NHL schedule announcement.

Bruins-Canadiens Rivalry

  • Sunday, Nov. 14 at Boston

  • Saturday, Dec. 18 at Montreal

  • Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Montreal

  • Monday, March 21 at Boston

The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is the NHL's best, but it's lost plenty of intensity in recent seasons. One of the reasons for that might be a lack of playoff series between these teams -- the last one was in 2014. The rivalry should receive a much-needed spark this coming season, though. The absence between Bruins-Canadiens games is definitely a factor in that. The last time these teams played against each other was Feb. 12, 2020 -- a 4-1 win for the B's in Boston. 

The Canadiens are coming off a surprise run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, which will set expectations pretty high for Montreal entering the new season. The Bruins have Stanley Cup aspirations as well.

All the ingredients are there for the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry to be awesome again.

First games vs. Seattle Kraken

  • Tuesday, Feb. 1 at Boston

  • Thursday, Feb. 24 at Seattle

The league is welcoming a new expansion franchise, the Seattle Kraken. They are the 32nd team and will play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The Kraken will play the Bruins twice -- once in Seattle and once in Boston -- like every other team in the West. Seattle selected B's defenseman Jeremy Lauzon in the expansion draft and one of its new assistant coaches, Jay Leach, spent the last four seasons as the head coach of the AHL's Providence Bruins.

Torey Krug's return to Boston

  • Tuesday, April 12 at Boston

Krug played seven full seasons with the Bruins after making his debut during the 2011-12 campaign. He quickly became a fan favorite and a reliable top-four defenseman. Krug left the Bruins as a free agent and signed a seven-year contract with the St. Louis Blues before the 2020-21 season. You can bet Bruins fans at TD Garden will give Krug a loud standing ovation on this night.

Bruins-Leafs rivalry

  • Saturday, Nov. 6 at Toronto

  • Tuesday, March 29 at Boston

  • Friday, April 29 at Toronto

The Leafs have been the Bruins' most fierce rival over the last eight years, thanks in large part to three first-round playoff series that all ended with a Boston victory in Game 7.

Toronto had a very disappointing end to the 2021 playoffs after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Canadiens in the first round. There's a lot of pressure in Toronto to not only win a playoff round but also make a real run at a Stanley Cup title next season. If the Leafs are going to take that step, they probably will face the Bruins along the way.

Taking on the champs

  • Saturday, Dec. 4 at Boston

  • Saturday, Jan. 8 at Tampa Bay

  • Thursday, March 24 at Boston

  • Friday, April 8 at Tampa Bay

The Bruins' 2019-20 season ended with a Game 5 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs. These teams were in different divisions last season and didn't play against each other as a result. 

Now that the Bruins and Lightning are in the same division again, Boston will play the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion four times in the regular season. These games will give the Bruins a great opportunity to assess how far away they are from being a top Cup contender.

These games also have the potential to produce plenty of fireworks, as we saw on March 7, 2020 -- the last Bruins-Lightning matchup at TD Garden.

Other notable matchups

Vegas Golden Knights

  • Tuesday, Dec. 14 at Boston

  • Thursday, March 3 at Vegas

The Knights are entering Year 5 of their existence and already have reached the Stanley Cup Final, first round, conference finals and semifinal. They should again be a top Cup contender in 2022. Vegas also is still searching for its first ever win in Boston (0-3-0 so far).

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Thursday, March 10 at Boston

  • Tuesday, March 15 at Chicago

The two games against the Blackhawks often produce exciting hockey, which is what you'd expect when elite goal scorers of David Pastrnak and Patrick Kane's caliber are on the ice.

New York Islanders

  • Wednesday, Dec. 15 at New York

  • Tuesday, March 22 at New York

  • Saturday, March 26 at Boston

The Islanders eliminated the Bruins from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a six-game second-round series. We can expect the three regular season meetings between these teams to feature much of the same physicality and intensity that we saw in the playoffs.

Edmonton Oilers

  • Thursday, Nov. 11 at Boston

  • Thursday, Dec. 9 at Edmonton

You won't want to miss the two games the Bruins play against the Oilers. Edmonton center Connor McDavid is coming off a Hart Trophy-winning season in which he tallied a league-leading 105 points in 56 games. McDavid has posted 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in seven career games versus the B's.