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Schedule highlights are plenty for 2010-11 season

by Rocky Bonanno / Chicago Blackhawks
The Stanley Cup Final rematch between the Blackhawks and Flyers takes place on January 23 in Chicago.

If you're anticipating the start of the 2010-11 NHL regular season, you should consider buying tickets for these calendar-circling games that are certain to stand out among the slate of 1,230 contests for the probability that they'll be highly anticipated and memory-making.

Oct. 7, NHL Face-Off
Four games are on tap to open the NHL's 93rd season, highlighted by the Maple Leafs hosting the archrival Canadiens following an opening day hockey and entertainment festival in Toronto.

Also, Pittsburgh hosts Philadelphia and unveils the NHL's newest arena, Consol Energy Center, only their second home rink since entering the NHL in 1967.

In other games, Chicago opens its defense of the Stanley Cup at Colorado, and Calgary is at provincial rival Edmonton.

Oct. 7-10, NHL Premiere
For the fourth straight season, the NHL regular-season will launch in Europe. This time the contingent is six teams, as Carolina and Minnesota play twice in Helsinki, Finland (Oct. 7 & 8), Columbus and San Jose will face off for two games in Stockholm, Sweden (Oct. 8 & 9), and Boston and Phoenix clash twice in Prague, Czech Republic (Oct. 9 & 10).

Oct. 9, Detroit at Chicago
The Blackhawks host the Red Wings, their Original Six rival, at United Center – and before the game, they'll raise the fourth Stanley Cup championship banner in franchise history, and first since 1961.

Oct. 30, 14 games
On the busiest night of the schedule, 28 of the 30 teams will be in action.

Nov. 6, Buffalo at Toronto
Two days before the official induction, the Maple Leafs will host the Sabres in the Hockey Hall of Fame Game, an annual rite in which the induction class is honored in a pregame ceremony at Air Canada Centre.

Jan. 1, 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic
For the fourth consecutive season, the NHL takes it outside on New Year's Day with the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. This edition is a mega-watt star showdown between Alex Ovechkin's Capitals and Sidney Crosby's Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Forbes magazine labeled the Winter Classic the best new sporting event of the last decade.

Jan. 23, Philadelphia at Chicago
The Stanley Cup finalists meet for the first time since Patrick Kane's overtime goal ousted the Flyers in Game 6.

Jan. 30, NHL All-Star Game
The League's 58th annual mid-season spectacular visits the Carolina Hurricanes and the city of Raleigh. The NHL SuperSkills takes place on Jan. 29 at the RBC Center.

Feb. 12, Hockey Day In Canada
CBC's 11th annual Hockey Day In Canada offers a "Hockey Night in Canada" triple header -- Ottawa at Edmonton (2 p.m. ET), Toronto at Montreal (7 p.m. ET), and Calgary at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET).

Feb. 17, Detroit at Tampa Bay
Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman faces the Red Wings, the team he starred for as a player for 22 seasons before beginning his executive career, for the only time this season.

Feb. 20, Montreal at Calgary
The NHL Heritage Classic returns to Canada for the first time since 2003 and pits the Canadiens against the Flames in an outdoor game at McMahon Stadium. Bring your long johns.

Feb. 20, Hockey Day In America
As part of USA Hockey's Hockey Weekend Across America, presented by Reebok, the day-long event will celebrate hockey in the United States with Washington at Buffalo, Philadelphia at the New York Rangers and Detroit at Minnesota. Also, in a meeting of the last two Stanley Cup champions, Pittsburgh visits Chicago.

March 10, Montreal at St. Louis

Though he didn't reach the sainted status of Patrick Roy, Jaroslav Halak was certainly the most popular Slovak in Montreal last season, rescuing the team down the stretch and leading the Canadiens to playoff upsets of Washington and Pittsburgh before losing to Philadelphia in the conference final. He was traded to the Blues last week as he approaches restricted free agency on July 1.

April 10
The final day of the NHL regular season schedule.

April 13
The start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The last possible date for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is June 17.

Schedule notes -- John MacLean makes his regular-season debut as the Devils' coach and Jason Arnott marks his return to the club Oct. 8 when New Jersey hosts Dallas. … Scott Arniel makes his regular-season debut as the Blue Jackets' coach against San Jose in Stockholm on Oct. 8 and makes his regular-season North America debut a week later against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. … Guy Boucher makes his regular-season debut as coach of the Lightning when Tampa Bay hosts Atlanta Saturday, Oct. 9. … Tampa Bay has the season's longest homestand, 12 games from Jan. 23-Feb. 25, while Los Angeles faces the season's longest road trip, 10 games from Feb. 1-23. …  The cross-state rivalry between Florida and Tampa Bay gets under way Oct. 16 when the Lightning provide the opposition for the Panthers in their home opener. The teams are led by new general managers -- Yzerman in Tampa and Dale Tallon in Florida. … The Ottawa Senators play their last 26 regular-season games against Eastern Conference opponents. … The Kings play their final 23 games against Western Conference, including the last five against Pacific Division opponents. … The Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes both play their final 20 games against Western Conference opponents. … Carolina makes the latest North American home debut -- October 27 against Washington.

Contact Rocky Bonanno at

Author: Rocky Bonanno | Staff Writer

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