While the hockey season actually started on Thursday, today is the day the real action gets underway. All 30 teams will be playing and the NHL is running its first-ever Twitter fan contest.
Stay tuned to IC throughout the day for all the latest news. NHL.com provides all the storylines that we can expect as hockey starts at 12:00 pm est and ends somewhere around 1:30 am est.
START TIMES AND STORYLINES FOR SATURDAY’S 15 NHL GAMES
Noon, ET: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Florida Panthers (at Helsinki, Finland)
The Blackhawks and Panthers conclude their two-game Compuware/NHL Premiere 2009 series at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell will enjoy something of a home-ice advantage, having played a full season in Finland with Hartwall-based Jokerit in 2004-05.
3 p.m., ET: Detroit Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues (at Stockholm, Sweden)
The Red Wings and Blues conclude their two-game Compuware/NHL Premiere 2009 series at the Globe Arena in Stockholm. Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and several Swedish-born teammates face another Swedish export in NHL All-Rookie forward Patrik Berglund and young Blues stars like defenseman Erik Johnson and forward T.J. Oshie.
3 p.m., ET: Vancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche
The Canucks face another division rival on the road after opening the season Thursday at Calgary. The defending Northwest champs will present a tough test for the Avalanche, who gave rookie head coach Joe Sacco his first career victory on opening night against San Jose.
7 p.m., ET: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins
A rematch of last spring’s Eastern Conference semi that required 18:46 of overtime of Game 7 to be decided on a Scott Walker goal. D Aaron Ward returns to the Hurricanes, with whom he won the 2006 Stanley Cup, after spending the last two-plus seasons with Boston.
7 p.m., ET: Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres
Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri and new head coach Jacques Martin lead the revamped Canadiens. Lindy Ruff begins his 13th straight season as Sabres head coach, the longest tenure of any coach in the NHL. This is the second straight season Buffalo will open by playing Montreal.
7 p.m., ET: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils
Jacques Lemaire returns to the Devils’ bench he ran from 1993-94 through 1997-98, winning the ’95 Stanley Cup. Martin Brodeur is expected to make his 15th straight season-opening start in goal, breaking the NHL record he shares with Terry Sawchuk and Patrick Roy. The Devils are 17-5-4 in season openers. D Chris Pronger plays his first divisional game for the Flyers, who open the season Friday at Carolina.
7 p.m., ET: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders
C John Tavares, the first-overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, is expected to make his NHL debut for the Islanders against Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, the first overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. The Isles have won their past four home openers.
7 p.m., ET: Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers
RW Marian Gaborik makes his Madison Square Garden debut as a Ranger with John Tortorella coaching his first home opener for the Broadway Blueshirts. RW Alex Kovalev, a Cup-winner with the Rangers, plays his first game for the Senators.
7 p.m., ET: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals
Having added RW Mike Knuble to an otherwise intact group, the Caps seek to continue the steady climb that has taken them from out of the playoffs to the first round to the second round in the past three seasons. Ds Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin and Garnet Exelby – all acquired over the summer – anchor the building Leafs, who will try to snap a four-season playoff drought.
7 p.m., ET: Tampa Bay Lightning at Atlanta Thrashers
D Victor Hedman, selected second overall in the 2009 Entry Draft, is expected to make his NHL debut for the Lightning. C Evander Kane, chosen fourth overall, could make his NHL debut for the Thrashers.
7 p.m., ET: Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets return to Nationwide Arena for the first time since playing the first playoff games in franchise history there last April. Bolstered by the signing of RW Martin Havlat, Minnesota plays its first-ever game with a coach other than Jacques Lemaire – Todd Richards.
8 p.m., ET: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
The Predators and Stars will be making their season debut. The Stars will play their first game under new head coach Marc Crawford, while captain Brenden Morrow could suit up for the club for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury Nov. 20.
10 p.m., ET: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers
All eyes will be on Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, an Edmonton native who will be competing in his first installment of the ‘Battle of Alberta’. The game also marks the debut of head coach Pat Quinn behind the Oilers bench.
10 p.m., ET: San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks
This is the season opener for the Ducks and a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series, the first all-California postseason clash in 30 years. The Sharks’ attack has been sharpened with the addition of LW Dany Heatley, while the Ducks’ Finnish stars Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu will line up as teammates for the first time in the NHL.
10:30 p.m., ET: Phoenix Coyotes at Los Angeles Kings
The Coyotes, under new head coach Dave Tippett, face a Kings squad bolstered by the off-season acquisition of defenseman Rob Scuderi and forward Ryan Smyth in the season opener for both clubs.