We're already circling games on the NHL calendar this week. Keep these matchups on your radar:
Wednesday: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Lightning have taken on a real Francophone look this offseason with the hirings of rookie coach Guy Boucher and assistant GM Julien BriseBois and the acquisition of Simon Gagne to go along with longtime French-speaking mainstays Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Throw in the fact Tampa Bay is hoping to use a potent offense to get back into the playoffs after a three-year absence and this should be quite a tilt.
The Canadiens are coming off a dramatic win in Pittsburgh, and it will be interesting to see how the fickle Bell Centre fans treat netminder Carey Price in Montreal's home opener. The young netminder has been terrific so far, especially in the win against Pittsburgh. The fans, of course, were heckling Price early in the preseason for his uneven play, and it won't take many wobbles before the catcalls start pouring down from the cheap seats once again.
Thursday: Detroit Red Wings at Dallas Stars (8:30 p.m. ET)
This match marks the return of Mike Modano, the former face of the Stars' franchise, to Dallas for the first time in a foreign jersey. Modano signed with Detroit as a free agent in the offseason and the 40-year-old scored a goal in his first game as a Red Wing. The Stars, meanwhile, are trying to accomplish something they didn't do all of last season: win three straight games. Dallas opened the season with two road wins and would like to defeat its longtime Western Conference rival Detroit in its home opener.
Friday: Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET)
Two teams that don't like each other much have a chance to get their hate on early in the season as the Canucks and Kings will meet for the second time in less than a week. The Kings spoiled the Canucks' home opener with a shootout victory this past Saturday, a small measure of revenge after losing to Vancouver in six games in a highly entertaining first-round playoff matchup. Both teams have Stanley Cup aspirations and will be looking to prove early in the season they have the consistency to be among the West's top teams.
Saturday: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames (10 p.m. ET)
Talk about a rematch in a hurry. The Flames will be looking to offer a little payback after the young Oilers posted a 4-0 rout in Edmonton on opening night. The Flames rebounded with a big win over Los Angeles in their second game, but fans will be looking to see if the Flames' big guns exact some payback against their cross-province rivals. Meanwhile, the Oilers will be hoping netminder Nikolai Khabibulin continues to show the hot hand in goal while the team builds some much-needed confidence after a season in which Edmonton finished last in the NHL.