First game on the tube, on TSN, sees the Battle of Ontario kick off at the Air Canada Centre. This game has it's share of popular players in the pool... Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Wade Redden will headline for the Senators, while Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle ride their popularity last season into the new year.
Last season's champions, the Carolina Hurricanes will host the new-look Buffalo Sabres tonight in Raleigh. The 'Canes will raise their Cup banner before the game. There's a spray of Sabres players throughout the pool, mostly taking back-up goaltender Martin Biron to start the year, but others like Teppo Numminen and Jaroslav Spacek also proved to be somewhat popular among the masses. For the Hurricanes, injured Cory Stillman and Frank Kaberle were popular picks, but won't see much time early on... healthy players like Eric Staal, Erik Cole and Mike Commodore appear on one or two teams a piece.
The only Western Conference battle on opening night sees two teams who are looking to reclaim their dominant identities with brand new faces. The most popular Avalanche player taking the ice tonight is defenseman, Brett Clark, while Joe Sakic was taken sporadically as was Pierre Turgeon & Andrew Brunette. The Dallas Stars were not a very popular team amongst pool pickers so far... Jussi Jokinen and his shootout skills (which don't figure in pool stats) were very popular as was defensemen Daryl Sydor and Jaroslav Modry.