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15 Games, One Night

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Die-hard fans will be able to satisfy their hockey hunger this weekend, as a rare occurrence takes place in the National Hockey League. On Saturday, for only the second time in league history, all 30 NHL clubs will be in action on the same day.

An estimated 275,000 fans will pack the stands in 15 arenas across North America to watch 600 players on the busiest day of the National Hockey League schedule.

And even if you can’t make it out to your local arena, you won’t have any trouble following the puck. Saturday’s games will offer approximately 50 hours of television coverage.

“That’s perfect. You can sit in front of the TV and watch hockey all day,” said Avalanche forward Darcy Tucker. “If you’re a hockey fan, it’s something that you have to love.”

For that reason, Saturday represents a unique opportunity for the NHL to market the game to not only hockey enthusiasts, but also thousands of potential fans. From the first puck drop at 2:08 p.m. MT in Philadelphia to the final buzzer at Vancouver’s General Motors Place and Phoenix’s Arena (approximately 10:45 p.m. MT), a total of nine hours of continuous hockey will take place.

When the Avalanche drops the puck with the Buffalo Sabres at Pepsi Center at 7:08 p.m., 12 NHL games will be in progress simultaneously.

The following day will be a much needed day off for all NHL clubs, marking the first time since Nov. 21, 2001, that no games will be played in the midst of a season (excluding the Christmas break, All-Star break, Olympic break and the days between the season-opening games in Europe and the start of the North American schedule).

Joining the Fight
Saturday will also be a unique and important night for the Avalanche organization, which will once again team up with the National Hockey League to host its Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.

To read more about how the Avalanche will celebrate this occasion, check out “This Week in Avalanche Hockey.”

Buffalo on Tap
The Sabres (6-0-1) will arrive in Denver as one of only three NHL teams without a regulation loss - Minnesota and Montreal being the others.

Because Colorado and Buffalo haven’t squared off since March 7, 2007 (a 3-2 Avalanche victory at HSBC Arena), the two clubs might be slightly unfamiliar with each other. However, a few Avalanche players, including Tucker and defenseman Ruslan Salei, have squared off with the Sabres many times during their days in the Eastern Conference. Both players shared their thoughts on what to watch for during Saturday’s game.

Tucker: “They’re a good puck possession team and like to use their speed. They’ve got some really good young hockey players over there. They had a lot of injuries last year and are looking to rebound this year. From what I’ve seen in the early part of the season, they’ve played really well.”

“They’ve always been a pretty fast and good skating team. They like to play a high-tempo game. This year they’re playing really well; they haven’t lost a game in regulation. It’s going to be a big task for us.”

Loose Pucks
Peter Budaj will start in goal for the third consecutive game on Saturday…David Jones, who missed Thursday’s contest while battling an illness, skated today and should be ready to play against Buffalo…The Sabres last visited Pepsi Center on Dec. 4, 2005 (a 6-4 Buffalo triumph).
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