The 2010-11 NHL preseason opens Tuesday with nine games, and the excitement for actual games is palpable.
Among those stepping into the spotlight tonight are veterans like Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, as well as rookies like Carolina's Jeff Skinner and Atlanta's Alexander Burmistrov. Fans in St. Louis will get their first chance to see a prized summer acquisition in action as Jaroslav Halak play his first game for the Blues when the Colorado Avalanche come to Scottrade Center.
"It's an opportunity to get off on the right foot. We have a lot of new faces here, and it's a chance to get back into games." -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
The Flyers will be one of the first teams to start -- after being one of the last to finish.
It was just 104 days ago that the Flyers' season ended in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. That's all done now, though, as tonight they host the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center (the former Wachovia Center had a name change over the summer). The game is one of three that will be televised tonight on the NHL Network-U.S.
Laviolette wouldn't reveal much about his roster, except to say Michael Leighton would start in goal with promising Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up.
For the Devils, it's their first game since the Flyers eliminated them in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs last spring.
New coach John MacLean wouldn't reveal who would be playing, but did say goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg would not be suiting up for the same preseason game, and Hedberg revealed to the Bergen Record that he believed he would be going to Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Scott Arniel will make his NHL coaching debut when he takes his Columbus Blue Jackets into Atlanta, where coach Craig Ramsay makes his Thrashers debut. In Toronto, the Maple Leafs will host the first of back-to-back games against the Ottawa Senators. Tuesday's game will be shown at 10 p.m. ET on the NHL Network-U.S.
The Stars return to Dallas after holding part of their training camp in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and will host the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Phoenix Coyotes, the surprise of last season, will play at Anaheim.
The Flames and Canucks will play split-squad games Tuesday. Iginla and Kiprusoff will lead the Flames' contingent at the Pengrowth Saddledome, while Rene Bourque tops the group going to Vancouver. The game in Calgary will be televised on NHLN-U.S. at 2 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
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