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Crash Course: Arm yourself with hockey knowledge

by Phil Coffey / NHL.com

With the anticipation of hockey overseas, a tweak in the schedule, another riveting Winter Classic and a centennial sure to please, the 2008-09 National Hockey League season will be coming at you faster than a Zdeno Chara slap shot.

It all starts Oct. 4 in Prague, Czech Republic, when Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers battle Vincent Lecavalier and the revamped Tampa Bay Lightning as part of NHL Premiere-Prague. Three hours later, Daniel Alfredsson returns to his native Sweden when the Ottawa Senators open against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in NHL Premiere-Stockholm. The same teams will play again the following day.

The first game in North America will be Oct. 9, when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Joe Louis Arena to battle the defending champion Red Wings. Prior to the contest, the Wings will unveil their championship banner, No. 11 in club history.

NHL.com has all the facts on the new season with a gigantic preview section of over 300 stories. NHL.com's staff of hockey experts break down each club and drills down to give fans exclusive looks at the statistics and players that will be important factors in the coming season. NHL.com also has detailed looks at each team's top prospects, a look back at each squad's 2008 Entry Draft selections and a final look back at how they fared in 2007-08.

The new season also will ring in a new look to the schedule as teams will play 24 games -- instead of 32 -- against their four divisional foes, 40 against the rest of the conference and 18 against teams in the other conferences. This allows for every team to skate in every building in the League at least once every two seasons. So settle back and take in all the info you need for the new season at NHL.com, your home for hockey.

On New Year's Day the NHL will present the Winter Classic, which this year features an Original-Six matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Red Wings at Chicago's Wrigley Field. Last season, before a record crowd of 71,217 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y., the Penguins scored a memorable 2-1 shootout victory over the Sabres when Crosby connected for the clinching goal amidst the backdrop of a steady snowfall.

The game in Chicago will mark the third regular-season outdoor NHL contest. In 2003, Montreal edged Edmonton, 4-3, before 57,167 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

While the League will celebrate the Winger Classic on New Year's Day, there will be a season-long celebration of the Montreal Canadiens' centennial season.

As part of that celebration, the All-Star Game will be held Jan. 25 at the Bell Centre, and the 2009 Entry Draft also will be held in Montreal the weekend of June 26-27. It's the first time in 17 years the Draft will be held in Montreal, when the 1992 selection process was held at the Montreal Forum.

EA SPORTS NHL09 Season Predictions
Western Conference W L OT Pts
1 53 21 8 114
2 48 28 66 102
3 43 34 5 91
4 44 25 13 101
5 45 27 10 100
6 45 28 9 99
7 43 30 9 95
8 42 32 6 90
 
9 41 35 6 88
10 40 35 7 87
11 39 39 4 82
12 34 37 11 79
13 34 36 12 80
14 34 39 9 77
15 32 40 9 75
Eastern Conference W L OT Pts
1 51 21 10 112
2 49 31 2 100
3 39 38 5 83
4 46 24 12 104
5 48 28 6 102
6 43 30 9 95
7 40 32 10 90
8 41 35 6 88
 
9 38 33 11 87
10 39 38 5 83
11 39 38 5 83
12 37 37 8 81
13 36 37 9 81
14 34 38 10 78
15 33 44 5 71
Awards Winners
Stanley Cup Detroit
Presidents' Trophy Detroit
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl Detroit
Prince of Wales Trophy Montreal
Art Ross Trophy S. Crosby - PIT
Hart Trophy S. Crosby - PIT
Norris Trophy D. Phaneuf - CAL
Lady Bing Trophy P. Datsyuk - DET
Calder Trophy K. Turris - PHO
Conn Smythe Trophy
P. Datsyuk - DET
Vezina Trophy E. Nabokov - SJS
William M. Jennings Trophy M. Brodeur - NJD
Masterton Trophy C. Chelios - DET
Jack Adams Trophy M. Babcock - DET
Frank Selke Trophy M. Richards - PHI
Lester B. Pearson Trophy A. Ovechkin - WAS
Maurice Richard Trophy A. Ovechkin - WAS
Leaders Goals
1 A. Ovechkin - WAS 56
2 I. Kovalchuk - ATL 52
3 V. Lecavalier - TBL 51
 
  Assists
1 S. Crosby - PIT 70
2 J. Thornton - SJS 68
3 M. Savard - BOS 58
 
  Points
1 S. Crosby - PIT 113
2 A. Ovechkin - WAS 109
3 J. Thornton - SJS 106
 
 
 

Season preview

NORTHEAST

Boston
Buffalo
Montreal
Ottawa
Toronto

SOUTHEAST

Atlanta
Carolina
Florida
Tampa Bay
Washington

Central

Chicago
Columbus
Detroit
Nashville
St. Louis

Northwest

Calgary
Colorado
Edmonton
Minnesota
Vancouver

Pacific

Anaheim
Dallas
Los Angeles
Phoenix
San Jose
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