The Oilers 2008-09 schedule has been released. Here are the highlights:
*Oilers open the pre-season with a home-and-home against division rival Vancouver Canucks Sept. 22nd in Edmonton and Sept. 23 in Vancouver
*Oilers play the nemesis Flames back-to-back on Sept. 30 in Edmonton and Oct. 3 in Calgary
*Season/Home Opener - Sun, Oct 12, vs. the Avs. Ryan Smyth returns once more to see what could've been.
*Duck hunting - the Oilers fly south to take on the Ducks in Anaheim on Wed, Oct. 15. Will there be more fireworks on the ice or in the press box? My money says Burke can't resist saying something stupid before AND after this game.
*Burning Rivalry - the Oilers travel to Pengrowth Saddledome on Fri, Oct. 17 and the Flames go to Rexall Place the next night, Sat, Oct. 18.
Flames' and Oilers' fans dislike of Todd Bertuzzi may unite them briefly, but don't expect the love to last. Oiler fans will also likely have a few choice words for Curtis Glencross.
*On The Road - the Oilers longest road trip of the season is a seven-game eastern swing which starts in Nashville on Thu, Oct. 30.
After that it's off to Carolina (Sat, Nov. 1) to renew acquaintances with the team that defeated them in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. Erik Cole and Joni Pitkanen will get a chance to square off against their old teams, as well.
Next up, is the Flyers on Sun, Nov. 2 (say hi to Joffrey!); the Blue Jackets on Wed, Nov. 5 (all eyes on Gilbert Brule and Raffi Torres); and the Oil visit Sid the Kid in Pittsburgh on Thu, Nov. 6.
*Maple Laughs - Toronto brings the circus to town on Thu, Nov. 13.
*Detroit Cup City - Edmonton plays the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings on Mon, Nov. 17. They'll get an up-close look at just how much Marian Hossa is worth.
*Kings For A Day - Former Oilers Jarret Stoll, once considered captain material in Edmonton, and Matt Greene will return to Rexall Place when LA visits on Wed. Nov. 26. D-man Lubomir Visnovsky will also show the Kings what they traded away.
*Quack Quack - The Ducks visit Rexall Place Fri, Dec. 19, where Oiler fans will have a warm cup of shut the **** up for Brian Burke and plenty of jeers for Chris Pronger. Maybe Bobby Ryan can shut them up ... maybe not.
*The Great One- Anytime the game's best player and all-time Oiler great Wayne Gretzky comes to town, it's a good day (even if he is just behind the bench). Phoenix will also have stud forward Olli Jokinen with them when they're in Edmonton on Mon, Dec. 22.
*Boxing Day Beauty - The best cure for turkey coma? Watching the Oilers knock the stuffing out of the Canucks in Vancouver on Fri, Dec. 26.
*Out With A Bang- Should auld acquaintance be forgot, New Year's Eve will serve as a fitting reminder for these two foes. Flames vs. Oilers at Pengrowth Saddledome on Wed, Dec. 31.
*Everybody Say AO, AO - Oilers visit Ovechkin and the Caps in Washington on Tue, Jan. 13.
*Home On The Range- the Oilers start their first of two six game homestands on Sun, Jan. 18 against the Coyotes. Between then and Tue, Feb. 3 they take on Columbus, Buffalo, Minnesota, Nashville, and Chicago.
*Montreal Smoked Meat - The Habs are in Edmonton on Wed, Feb. 11, giving Sheldon Souray a chance to show former teammates that booming shot of his.
*Flaming Out- Stortini hugs it out with Glencross, Bertuzzi, and Phaneuf at Rexall on Sat, Feb. 21, but it still won't be enough to make fans like any of them.
*Seen Stamkos...Sure Did- Oilers' fans get treated to superstar Vincent Lecavalier and first overall pick Steven Stamkos when the Lightning visit Edmonton on Tue, Feb. 24.
*Oh, That's What Hockey Looks Like - The Oilers get to give Toronto fans/the Center of the Universe's corporate elite a finger of their own as they thump the Leafs into submission on Sat, Mar. 7.
*Ducks Unlimited - The Oilers head to Anaheim on Fri, Mar. 27 and the Ducks come to Edmonton on Tue, Mar. 31. By this point of the season, the standings should be doing most of the talking, but somehow that seems unlikely. Maybe Smid or Penner can put an exclamation point on things.
*There's No Place Like Home- The Oilers play at Rexall for six straight games from Sun, Mar. 29 until Fri, Apr. 10. They close out the regular season with a home-and-home series against the Flames. Calgary comes to Edmonton on Fri, Apr. 10 and the Oilers head south to the Saddledome the next day, Sat, Apr. 11.
Non-Oiler games of interest
*Outdoor Classic - Blackhawks host Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day.
*European Season Openers - Rangers take on the Lightning in Prague and Senators face the Penguins in Stockholm on Oct. 4th and 5th.
*Bertuzzi in Vancouver - Flames face the Canucks at GM Place on Oct. 9th. How will Vancouver fans react to Big Bert playing for Calgary? Two nights later, the Canucks visit the Saddledome. How will Flames' fans react to Big Bert playing for Calgary?
*Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs - Season opener for both teams, also on Oct. 9th, and this should be ugly. The outcome is already certain, but how badly will the Stanley Cup Champs destroy the whimpering Leafs in Hockeytown, USA. I don't think double-digits are out of the question and this game should signal exactly just how long of a season it will be for Leaf fans.
*Stamkos Home Debut- First overall pick Steven Stamkos makes his home, and North American, NHL debut against the Canes on Sat, Oct. 11.
*Crosby vs. Ovechkin - The Caps visit the Pens in Pittsburgh on Oct. 16th.
*Avery visits MSG - Agitator Sean Avery and the Dallas Stars take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 20.
*Stanley Cup Rematch - Pens take on the Wings in Detroit on Nov. 11th. How could we forget?
*All-Star Game in Montreal - The Sun, Jan. 25th game coincides with the Habs' 100th anniversary.