The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim open up the 2005-2006 NHL regular season on Wednesday night in Chicago. Following that encounter, the Ducks visit Nashville on Saturday to take on the Predators. Anaheim returns home on Monday to host the Edmonton Oilers at the Arrowhead Pond.
That’s the look at the Mighty Ducks schedule during the first week of the season.
Anaheim’s Head Coach Randy Carlyle brings his team into Chicago for the first of four regular season meetings between the teams. And the Hawks look to be a different team than the one that finished the 2003-2004 season with a 20-43-11-8 record.
Last summer, Chicago signed veterans Matthew Barnaby, Curtis Brown and Jassen Cullimore to add some grit and experience to the equation. This summer, the Hawks were among the most active teams in the free-agent market. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, defensemen Adrian Aucoin and Jaroslav Spacek and forwards Martin Lapointe and Jim Dowd all join the new look Blackhawks.
Chicago has a new coach, opting not to re-sign Brian Sutter and instead hiring Trent Yawney. A former Hawk defenseman and longtime coach of the Norfolk Admirals (Chicago’s AHL affiliate), Yawney is regarded as a coach who works well with young players.
In Tuomo Ruutu, Tyler Arnason, Mark Bell and Kyle Calder, the Hawks have four young forwards to build around.
Aucoin was one of the Hawks top free-agent targets, and the former New York Islander All-Star immediately becomes the team’s go-to guy on defense. At Tuesday’s practice in Chicago, Aucoin was named the Hawks captain for the coming season.
In goal, Chicago was very unstable with five goalies taking turns in the nets during the 2003-2004 season. Khabibulin was 28-19-7 in the 2003-2004 regular season and excelled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, posting a 16-7 record and a 1.71 goals-against average to carry the Lightning through four demanding rounds to its first championship.
So, it’s a tough opener for the Mighty Ducks on the road. Anaheim finished their pre-season with a record of 3-3-2. Now it’s the real thing.
There are fifteen games on tap in the National Hockey League on Wednesday night. It’s great to have hockey back in Southern California.
Join me and Brent Severyn for all the action on the Mighty 1090 on your AM dial. Broadcast time is set for 5:15pm (Pacific Time). A couple of wins on the road to start the season would certainly be a nice way to get the 2005-2006 regular season off on a good note.