Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time to drop the puck!

Yes I know that last weekend, NHL Premiere series in Stockholm and Prague officially kicked off the 2008-2009 National Hockey League season. But the bulk of season openers begins with tonight's slate of games that actually count in the standings.

Before I give you all the news sources you need to read up and get your juices flowing as far as hockey on the brain goes, let's take an quick look at what is on tap for tonight.

Toronto at Detroit, 7:00 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: CBC and Versus)
The league made sure that this game was schedule to kick off the new season and that two Original Six rivals are front and center for all hockey fans to see. We know the history of the teams. But most importantly, we're interested in seeing the Detroit Red Wings' 11th Stanley Cup championship banner go up to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena. The Toronto Maple Leafs may not be that competitive of a team as projected by the hockey observers we see on television, hear on the radio or publish in print, but they're an attractive opponent to watch play the Red Wings for viewers on both sides of the border. As part of today's NHL Faceoff 2008 festivities, fans are being treated to live music from Def Leppard over at the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit, just blocks away from the arena. And then via satellite, Ottawa native Alanis Morissette will perform from Montréal... Oh and I highly recommend you go to the NHL.com home page and when you see the "Tonight We Rock!" headline, move your cursor over the main content box and click the play button icon. You'll see an awesome hockey music video to Def Leppard's new hit song "C'mon C'mon".

Boston at Colorado, 10:00 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: Versus)
This matchup may not have the marquee value that the Maple Leafs-Red Wings one does, but those fans especially in Boston and Denver will get to enjoy the season opener for both teams. Tony Granato returns to behind the bench for the Colorado Avalanche for the first time in four years as he takes over for Joel Quenneville. Joe Sakic is back for a 20th NHL season for Colorado. Patrice Bergeron plays his first game for the Boston Bruins since sustaining a serious concussion early last season.

Calgary at Vancouver, 10:30 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: CBC)
Todd Bertuzzi faces one of his former teams as he makes his debut with the Calgary Flames. His presence bolsters a top scoring line with Daymond Langkow and Jarome Iginla. Mike Cammalleri will also play his first game in a Flames uniform and upgrades the second scoring line. Roberto Luongo as the newly-named captain will be between the pipes for the Vancouver Canucks, a team that failed to make the playoffs last season and lost Luongo's predecessor in Markus Naslund as well as Brendan Morrison to free agency. But the arrival of Pavol Demitra will help make up for the loss of two important forwards on the club. Calgary has lost its last five season openers, so it should be interesting as to whether or not they'll break that streak with this divisional road game.

Anaheim at San Jose, 10:30 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: FSN Prime Ticket and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)
Unlike last season, the Anaheim Ducks will begin a new season with re-named captain Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne back in the fold for another year. Selanne just recently signed a new 2-year contract while Niedermayer has already committed to playing at least one more season. The Ducks don't fare well in season openers as there are 4-10 in such games. Brendan Morrison makes his debut for Anaheim while Dan Boyle and Rob Blake do the same for the San Jose Sharks. Todd McLellan runs the Sharks bench for the first time after leaving the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings over the summer. San Jose is hoping to see Vezina Trophy finalist Evgeni Nabokov duplicate the success he had last season, but that the team as a whole can overcome a bitter 6-game Western Conference Semifinal loss to the Dallas Stars. The memory of their season ending on Brendan Morrow's series winner during the fourth overtime should enough motivation for this season... NOTE: You can also watch this game tonight during the debut of NHL.com's NHL GameCenter Live. It is the start of a three-day free preview where you can see games online just like you did with the former NHL Center Ice Online, only it's better.

Here are some season preview hyperlinks from the usual suspects to catch you up to speed. Try not to call me lazy, but if you want preview articles and feature stories from a specific team, you'll have to check out the individual team official web sites.

The Sports Network (TSN)
2008-2009 NHL preview page

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
2008-2009 NHL season backgrounder

ESPN
2008 NHL preview page

FOX Sports
A look at the new season

Rogers Sportsnet
NHL Preview 2008-2009

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