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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
As is the case any time a new season schedule is released, there is much excitement among fans, coaches, and players. The same holds true for the Rangers’ 2009-10 schedule, which signals the Original Six team’s 83rd season in the league.
Here are some of the more intriguing storylines related to dates on the Rangers’ upcoming regular-season schedule:Oct. 2 Season-Opener -- Rangers at Pittsburgh
The Rangers will be tested right off the bat, as they open up the season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, who will be raising their championship banner on this night at Mellon Arena.
Oct. 3 Home-Opener – Rangers vs. Ottawa
|New Rangers winger Marian Gaborik will make should be an emotional return to Minnesota with the Blueshirts on Oct. 30. |
The home opener at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers will host the Senators. This is one of six Saturday contests to be played at MSG during the 2009-10 campaign.Oct. 8 at Washington
The Rangers return to the Verizon Center to facet Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals for the first time since being eliminated by them in seven games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last spring. This also ends a stretch where the Rangers open the season by playing three of their first four games on the road.Oct. 11 vs. Anaheim at MSG
The Rangers open up a three-game homestand with a tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. The Blueshirts will host seven three-game homestands this season, which is three more than they had all of last year.Oct. 14 vs. Los Angeles at MSG
The Rangers conclude their homestand with a contest against the Kings, one of three Western Conference teams that the Rangers will play twice this season. The other two are the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes.Oct. 24 at Montreal
Christopher Higgins will face the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre for the first time as a Ranger since he was traded to New York in a seven-player deal that also involved Montreal’s Scott Gomez on June 30.Oct. 30 at MinnesotaMarian Gaborik
, the face of the Wild franchise for eight seasons, returns to the Xcel Energy Center for the first time since signing as a free agent with the Rangers on July 1.Nov. 3 at Vancouver
The Rangers open up a three-game road trip against teams from the Northwest Division by skating in Vancouver against the Canucks. The trip also includes stops in Edmonton and Calgary. Nov. 17 vs. Washington at MSG
Another three-game homestand begins as the Capitals make their first appearance this season at Madison Square Garden.
Nov. 28 and 30 vs. Pittsburgh
The Rangers play their first home-and-home series of the season as they visit the Penguins in Pittsburgh before playing host to the defending Cup champs two nights later. The Blueshirts will play four sets of home-and-home series in total in 2009-10.Dec. 6 vs. Detroit at MSG
The Detroit Red Wings make a rare appearance at The Garden for an Original Six matchup. This is one of seven Sunday contests to be played at MSG this season.Dec. 16 vs. Islanders at MSG
The Islanders travel into Manhattan for their initial Madison Square Garden visit. The Rangers will host the Islanders three times in 2009-10, and will play them a total of six times, as they will also do against their other Atlantic Division rivals -- New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.Dec. 31 at Carolina
Unlike last year when the Rangers spent New Year’s Eve away from the hockey rink, the Blueshirts will close out the calendar year by facing the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Two nights later, the Rangers host the ‘Canes at The Garden in their first contest of 2010. Jan. 6 vs. Dallas at MSGSean Avery
faces his former Stars teammates as the Rangers close out a three-game homestand at MSG. Due to the condensed schedule this year, the Rangers will play 16 games in the month of January, four more than they did a year ago.Jan. 30 at Phoenix
The Rangers head out for their second trip of the season that reaches the West coast by opening up against the Coyotes, before heading to Colorado on Jan. 31 and Los Angeles on Feb. 2.Feb. 4 vs. Washington at MSG
The Rangers return home from the left coast to begin a three-game homestand against the Capitals, Devils, and Nashville Predators.Feb. 14 vs. Tampa Bay at MSG
In their final contest before the Olympic Break, the Rangers play on Valentine’s Day at The Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers have not played on Valentine’s Day since the 2003-04 season. They have not played on Valentine’s Day at MSG since a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh in 2003.Feb. 15-March 1, 2010 – Olympic Break
The Rangers have no games scheduled during this time as the NHL breaks for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Henrik Lundqvist
and Sweden will be looking to replicate their gold-medal magic from the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.March 2 at Ottawa
Back in action after the break, the Rangers skate against the Senators in Ottawa.March 4 vs. Pittsburgh at MSG
In their first home game since the break, the Rangers host the Penguins.March 25 at New Jersey
The Rangers begin a season-high six-game road trip that runs through April 6 and includes stops in New Jersey, Toronto, Long Island, Tampa Bay, Florida, and Buffalo. The Rangers will play seven of their last nine games of the season on the road.
April 9 vs. Philadelphia at MSG
The Rangers host the Flyers in the final home contest of 2009-10. As was the case last year, the Rangers conclude their regular season schedule with a home-and-home set against the Flyers, with this year’s finale taking place on April 11 in Philly.