MONTREAL - The 2006-07 NHL schedule is hot off the presses and the Canadiens will begin their season on Oct. 6 in Buffalo.
Canadiens fans can expect another steady diet of division foes this season, as the NHL picks up where it left off in 2005-06 with a rivalry-based schedule that will see the Habs face the Maple Leafs, Senators, Bruins and Sabres eight times each, including the home opener against Ottawa on Oct. 14.
While this year's schedule does not feature any games against the Pacific Division, the Canadiens will reacquaint themselves with the Central Division in 2006-07, after not facing the division at all last season. With all five of this year's matchups coming on the road, the Canadiens may need to ask for directions to the rink especially in Columbus, Chicago and St. Louis where their last trip dates back to the 2001-02 season. The Canadiens will also reintroduce themselves to fans of both the Red Wings and Predators for the first time in almost four years.
A pair of former Canadiens coaches will get their first taste of what it's like to stand behind the opposing team's bench at the Bell Centre. Claude Julien and the Devils will make their first of two visits on Nov. 4, While Alain Vigneault, Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks will make the trip to Montreal on Jan. 16.
Another date worth circling is Oct. 21, as Jose Theodore and Patrice Brisebois will make their return to the Bell Centre when the Colorado Avalanche make a rare visit to Montreal.
After going toe-to-toe for top rookie of the year honors, Sidney Crosby and Calder Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin will make a pair of stops at the Bell Centre, with the Penguins coming to town on Dec. 16 and Feb. 4, and the Capitals passing through on Feb. 20 and March 24.
It will be payback time in Carolina when the Canadiens take on the Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes on Nov. 2 and Nov. 30, in their first encounters since facing off in the opening round of the 2006 playoffs. The Hurricanes will then pay a visit to the Bell Centre on Feb. 6 and 17.
The Canadiens will also play seven preseason games from Sept. 19 though 30, including five games at the Bell Centre versus Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Ottawa.
All Canadiens games will be broadcasted on RDS, CJAD and CKAC. RDS' Mchants Mardis will return this year with a total of 17 games, beginning on Oct. 17 against the Calgary Flames. Canadiens will play home games on every day of the week, but Friday. Saturday remains the busiest day on the schedule with 27 games, including 17 at the Bell Centre.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com