Chicago Blackhawks Raise The Banner: Home Openers To Watch

Kyle WahlgrenCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2010

Chicago Blackhawks Raise The Banner: Home Openers To Watch

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    With the anxiousness of a new season drawing ever so close, the Chicago Blackhawks will be looking to close the storybook of a never-ending celebration of a Stanley Cup Championship. 

    On Oct. 9, the Blackhawks will face-off against their long-time rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. 

    In a showdown that will be a precursor to what will come during the 2010-11 campaign, the festivities will begin with the defending Champions hoisting their fourth Stanley Cup Banner to the rafters of the United Center.

    With emotions high in an already raucous atmosphere, the definition of "deafening" may be officially defined. 

    With roster changes on both sides of the puck, both teams will be showing up to impress.  If not for a premature lead upon the other, most of all for morale and confidence.

    Take a look at five other games that many in the hockey world will be tuning in to.  From rookie debuts to soaring expectations, the drop of the puck is near as the 2010-11 NHL season is about to begin.

Taylor Hall Makes an Oiler Debut

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Talk early in the 2010 off-season was all about the "Taylor and Tyler duo" and who would be drafted first. 

    Yes, we all know the first game doesn't tell-all, but that doesn't mean that anyone should be less excited.

    Being selected first in any draft bring along great expectations.  Taylor Hall will not only be facing these expectations, but extra pressure from an Edmonton fan base in need of a hero. 

    Aside from Hall, a new head coach in Tom Renney looks to bring success to a team that finished 27-47-8.  On Oct. 7, the Oilers will look to overcome a Calgary Flames team that defeated them in all six meeting last season, including a shoot-out loss.

Vancouver Looks To Aim High With a Strong Off-Season

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The season will begin with a rematch of the opening round opponent, the Los Angeles Kings.  Unfortunately for the Kings, the Vancouver Canucks have perhaps made the most improvements over the off-season.

    With the addition of defenseman, Dan Hamhuis, the Canucks now perhaps will ice one of the top defenseman in the game. 

    The "green men" will be looking for a "W" to start the season out in a way that many could hope ending in the same fashion. 

    As consistent contenders over the past two years, they will enter this season as one of the favorites in the Western Conference. After early exits in the last two seasons, fans want answers. 

San Jose, Goaltending Corps Looks To Start Hot Against Atlanta

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The San Jose Sharks will begin their quest towards a fifth season in a row with 100+ points and their seventh straight playoff berth.  Unlike numerous years before, they will be without regular netminde, Evgeni Nabakov. 

    Instead, the team is mixed with a trio of netminders looking to fulfill the void.  Amongst the three goaltenders (Antti Niemi, Thomas Greiss, Antero Nittymaki), Niemi seems to have the upperhand after backstopping the Sharks playoff foe, the Chicago Blackhawks, to a Stanley Cup Championship.

    Regardless of the starting goaltender, Sharks fans are hungry for a title that seemed so close a season ago. 

    With another year of playing experience, the top six should be just that and anything but on opening night would be a disappointment in front of a home crowd.

A Rivalry Enhances a Christening In Pittsburgh

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Perhaps no other game is more looked forward to out East than that of Philadelphia traveling to Pittsburgh to open not only a new season, but to unveil a new home to the Penguins. 

    The Consol Energy Center will be the new home come Oct. 7.

    After a disappointing showing to close out the previous season, fans are now focused on reclaiming the title that slipped away last season. 

    On the other side of the circle will be the Philadelphia Flyers.  A team that made a face for themselves on an unprecedented march through the playoffs, only to fall short to the Blackhawks in the Finals. 

    There is no better matchup for the opening night of a season and the turning of the first page of a building that will behold many memories to come. 

Opening Night Is Meant For Morale... In Most Cases.

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    While numerous teams look forward to getting back on the ice, to host a home opener against a team that lost only fifteen games in regulation all of last regular season. 

    That can be said for the Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, and Carolina Hurricanes.

    The commonality of those mentioned... well they all face the Washington Capitals who finished 12-1-3 cumulatively against all three teams.

    As an offensive juggernaut, last year many teams were just flat-out out-scored.  Does a team need a defense to win a Presidents Cup?  Apparently not. 

    What the home crowds these nights may have is a long walk back to their car and perhaps an even longer wait to see a home win in the 2010-11 season.

    Kyle Wahlgren is a featured columnist for and owner of