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On your mark, get set ... open datebooks!
Evan Grossman | NHL.com Staff Writer
Jul 11, 2007, 2:00 PM EDT
Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the Anaheim Ducks open their season on September 29 in London, England against the Kings.
Get out those magic markers, highlighters and Sharpies.

The 2007-08 NHL regular-season schedule was released this afternoon exclusively on NHL.com. There are 1,230 individual games making up the master schedule, a slate that is once again worthy of circling several games on the calendar months before the first puck is dropped.

And when that first puck of the season is finally dropped, it'll be on European ice for the first time in NHL history.

Anaheim and Los Angeles, with home arenas just a few miles from each other in California, will open the 2007-08 NHL regular season with a pair of back-to-back games in London, England on Sept. 29 and 30. It is the first time NHL teams will play regular-season games on European soil.

The New Jersey Devils will play their first game at the brand-new Prudential Center in Newark after spending their entire history at the Meadowlands sports complex at Exit 16W on the Turnpike. The Devils open the season with nine road games before hitting their new home ice Oct. 27 against the Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators.

Evan Grossman

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While opening night will be a tremendously anticipated event for Devils fans, the home game they might also be circling on their calendars will be the one on Nov. 14 when Scott Gomez and the Rangers make their first trip across the Hudson since Gomez signed with the Blueshirts as a free agent last week. Gomez won two Stanley Cups in seven seasons with the Devils before he signed with the divisional rivals. Gomez and the Rangers, who play the Devils eight times during the season, will make three more trips to “The Rock” before the end of the year.

Buffalo fans at HSBC Arena are guaranteed to be in full throat on Dec. 21 when former co-captain Daniel Briere comes back to town for the first time in a Flyers uniform. Briere, who played the last three-plus seasons with the Sabres, helped take the team to the Eastern Conference Finals the last two seasons but bolted via free agency on July 1, part of a massive rebuild in Philly.

Sabres fans will also be charged up in that hockey-loving city with a tradition of New Year’s games when Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are in town Jan. 1. And don’t forget Chris Drury’s first game back in a new uniform when he and the New York Rangers head upstate for what is expected to be a memorable clash Feb. 23.

Another anticipated homecoming will take place much earlier in the season when the Detroit Red Wings welcome the Cup-champion Anaheim Ducks into the Joe Louis Arena Oct. 3 in a home opener many in Hockeytown will have circled on their calendars. That night, former Wings Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider will be wearing the enemy colors for the first time in a rematch of the entertaining Western Conference Final series.

Devils fans will be quick to circle Nov. 14 on their calendars -- the date Scott Gomez and the Rangers make their first trip across the Hudson since Gomez signed with the Blueshirts.
Perhaps no homecoming will be as emotional as the one in Edmonton Oct. 23 when Ryan Smyth and the Colorado Avalanche invade Rexall Place. It will be the first time Smyth, who cried when he was traded to the Islanders at the deadline last year after a 12-year run with his hometown team, comes back home to the team his career started with. Smyth signed with the Pacific Division-rival Avs last week at the start of free agency and will face his former team eight times during the season. Colorado also plays the Islanders in Denver on Jan. 5 in what figures to be a less emotionally charged game than Smyth’s return to Oil Country.

Speaking of the Isles, they’ll welcome longtime buddy Jason Blake back to the Coliseum, the old barn where they chanted his name so regularly over the course of his six-year tenure on the Island, when he and the Maple Leafs visit on Dec. 26. Blake signed with Toronto last week after blossoming from fourth-line pest to 40-goal scorer with the Islanders. No word yet on Alexei Yashin making a return trip to the Coliseum yet, but stay tuned.

Some other highlights to keep you circling dates on the calendar for the 2007-08 season:

* The busiest night of the year will be Oct. 6 with 14 games on the schedule, including two “Original Six” matchups (Montreal-Toronto and Detroit-Chicago).

* The Rangers and Maple Leafs will clash in the annual “Hall of Fame” game Nov. 10 at Air Canada Centre, two nights before former Ranger captain Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Jim Gregory are inducted to the Hall.

* The NHL All-Star Game will be held in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena Jan. 27.

* “Hockey Day in Canada,” featuring four games involving the six Canadian teams, will be held Feb. 9 when Detroit visits Toronto, Montreal travels to Ottawa, Edmonton heads to Calgary in the Battle of Alberta, and Vancouver hosts Colorado.

* On March 3, Stanley Cup Finalists Ottawa and Anaheim tee it up again at Honda Center.

* The 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs will start on Wednesday, April 9.


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