After a long summer full of issues having little to do with the game on the ice, the boys of winter will lace up their skates, tape their sticks and get ready to skate, shoot and score on someone other than teammates.
The 2010-11 NHL preseason opens Tuesday with nine games, and the excitement for actual games is palpable.
Among those stepping into the spotlight tonight are veterans like Calgary's Jarome Iginla
and Miikka Kiprusoff
, as well as rookies like Carolina's Jeff Skinner
and Atlanta's Alexander Burmistrov
. Fans in St. Louis will get their first chance to see a prized summer acquisition in action as Jaroslav Halak
play his first game for the Blues when the Colorado Avalanche
come to Scottrade Center.
"It's an opportunity to get off on the right foot. We have a lot of new faces here, and it's a chance to get back into games." -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
"It's an opportunity to get off on the right foot," Philadelphia Flyers
coach Peter Laviolette
said. "We have a lot of new faces here, and it's a chance to get back into games. When you get early on here, you are evaluating talent, inserting systems, and you can go over things in practice. But mistakes will be made and it's an opportunity to take the tape, go back. You're teaching with this group. What's going on, things we need to get better at. So it's really just a starting point."
The Flyers will be one of the first teams to start -- after being one of the last to finish.
It was just 104 days ago that the Flyers' season ended in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. That's all done now, though, as tonight they host the New Jersey Devils
at 7 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center (the former Wachovia Center had a name change over the summer). The game is one of three that will be televised tonight on the NHL Network-U.S.
Laviolette wouldn't reveal much about his roster, except to say Michael Leighton
would start in goal with promising Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky
backing him up.
For the Devils, it's their first game since the Flyers eliminated them in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs last spring.
New coach John MacLean
wouldn't reveal who would be playing, but did say goaltenders Martin Brodeur
and Johan Hedberg
would not be suiting up for the same preseason game, and Hedberg revealed to the Bergen Record that he believed he would be going to Philadelphia on Tuesday.
will make his NHL coaching debut when he takes his Columbus Blue Jackets
into Atlanta, where coach Craig Ramsay
makes his Thrashers debut. In Toronto, the Maple Leafs will host the first of back-to-back games against the Ottawa Senators
. Tuesday's game will be shown at 10 p.m. ET on the NHL Network-U.S.
The Stars return to Dallas after holding part of their training camp in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and will host the Tampa Bay Lightning
. The Phoenix Coyotes
, the surprise of last season, will play at Anaheim.
The Flames and Canucks will play split-squad games Tuesday. Iginla and Kiprusoff will lead the Flames' contingent at the Pengrowth Saddledome, while Rene Bourque
tops the group going to Vancouver. The game in Calgary will be televised on NHLN-U.S. at 2 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com