by Todd Anderson
The season-opener against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Oct. 4 kickstarts a full schedule of exciting hockey for the Ottawa Senators in 2006-07.
A day after the season debut, the teams travel to Ottawa for the Senators' home opener at Scotiabank Place arena. Those two games are the first of three sets of back-to-back matches between the Sens and Leafs. In all, the Senators will play seven back-to-back series of games against the same opponent this season.
Similar to 2005-06, the Senators will face Northeast Division rivals eight times this season and other Eastern Conference opponents four times.
While divisional matchups will continue to provide intense action, fans will want to circle other games on their calendars as a couple of familiar faces will be taking on their former teammates.
The Senators challenge former alternate captain Zdeno Chara and the Bruins in Boston on Oct. 28. Chara, who signed as a free agent with Boston on July 1, makes his first return to Ottawa on Dec. 19.
Martin Havlat, Bryan Smolinski and their new Chicago Blackhawks teammates won't visit Scotiabank Place this season but they will host the Senators on March 4. Havlat and Smolinski were traded to the Hawks for Tom Preissing, Michal Barinka and Josh Hennessy, as well as a second-round draft pick in 2008, in a three-team trade that included the San Jose Sharks.
Newly acquired Senators goaltender Martin Gerber, who signed as a free agent on July 1, will also have the opportunity of meeting his former team. Ottawa will face the defending Stanley Cup-champion Carolina Hurricanes four times this season, including the first meeting in Ottawa on Nov. 4. Gerber spent the last three seasons with Carolina.
While the bulk of the schedule -- 73 games in total -- will be played against Eastern Conference teams, the other nine games will be against western clubs.
The Northwest Conference will come to Ottawa this season as the Calgary Flames visit on Oct. 12, Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 19, Minnesota Wild on Nov. 20, Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 18 and Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 20
Ottawa will play the Central division clubs on the road as they travel to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 10, the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 12, the Nashville Predators on Dec. 14 and the St. Louis Blues on March 20.
The Senators will not face the Pacific Division teams the Dallas Stars, Preissing's former San Jose Sharks team, the Anaheim Ducks, Joe Corvo's (who signed as a free agent with Ottawa on July 1) former Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes. Ottawa played each of those teams in 2005-06.
Pre-season schedule opens in Halifax
The pre-season campaign -- featuring eight games -- kicks off in Halifax on Sept. 19 when the Senators play Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ottawa fans will have their first chance to catch the new-look Senators on home ice a day later when they host the Leafs.
The Senators will also play the Montreal Canadiens in Truro, N.S. on Sept. 25 thanks to Salmon River's grand prize win during Kraft Hockeyville 2006. Due to the limited amount of seats in the Salmon River community rink, the NHL game will be played in Truro to allow the maximum amount of Salmon River residents to attend.
To view the complete schedule for 2006-07 and for more information click here