Preview: Ducks at Avalanche, Game 1

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

The Colorado Avalanche (0-0-0) season opener kicks off with the visiting Anaheim Ducks (0-0-0), in what is the first of three meetings between the two sides. Last year, the Ducks won the season series winning two out of three games.

Put down your peanuts and crackers jacks, because the real men of Denver have returned to town. Hockey is back, baby.

And with that, our screams of joy. Of anger. Of disappointment. Of ecstasy. But most importantly, we kick off the regular season on the day we're supposed to. It's almost easy to forget that game 1 of last year's "regular season" happened this very same calendar year. This time, no lockouts. No nonsense.

I think it's safe to say that we're all aware of the new roster changes, but here's the skinny for all you part-time lurkers out there: Nathan MacKinnon (#29), drafted first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, will make his debut as a rookie. Alex Tanguay (#40) is making his return to the burgundy and blue after spending seven years with the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, and Tampa Bay Lightning. Steve Downie (#17), who missed all but two games last season, is practically a new signing for the Avs. Ryan O'Reilly's (#90) contract fiasco is in the past, and we look forward to seeing how he blossoms into his newfound role as a winger. Marc-Andre Cliche (#24) is a new center, but don't expect much noise coming from him.

Defensively, the Avs now have Cory Sarich (#16) who is essentially a stop-gap until one of the young blueliners - hopefully, Duncan Siemens or Chris Bigras - develops into an NHL force. Sarich, who's lost a couple of steps the past few years, was a defensive liability on numerous occasions with Calgary, so prepare to be frustrated. The spotlight perhaps shines brightest on the 22-year-old Tyson Barrie (#4), who is expected to contribute to the stat sheet as he quarterbacks one of the powerplay units. Remember, last season the Avs' defense notched a mere five goals. Andre Benoit (#61), Nate Guenin (#5), and Nick Holden (#2) round out the newcomers. In the absence of the injured Ryan Wilson (#44), the 30-year-old Guenin will be paired with Barrie tonight.

For an even more detailed overview of the entire starting roster, check out Sandie's piece.

What about the Bobby Ryan-less Anaheim Ducks? Well, they are already feeling the effects of the injury bug: Jakob Silfverberg, Emerson Etem, Luca Sbisa and Sheldon Souray are all on the IR.

With that in mind, this is the Ducks' current roster of 23:

Forwards

Defense

Andrew Cogliano

Ben Lovejoy

Corey Perry

Bryan Allen

Daniel Winnik

Cam Fowler

Devante Smith-Pelly

Francois Beauchemin

Dustin Penner

Hampus Lindholm

Kyle Palmieri

Mark Fistric

Mathieu Perreault

Sami Vatanen

Matt Beleskey

Nick Bonino

Patrick Maroon

Goalies

Peter Holland

Viktor Fasth

Ryan Getzlaf

Jonas Hiller

Saku Koivu

Teemu Selanne

Head on over to Anaheim Calling for more coverage.

This is the season of new beginnings. Patrick Roy. Joe Sakic. Nathan MacKinnon. Francois Allaire. The Jumbotron. Ice girls. Hell, I'll even throw in earl06.

Some say the Avs are still a year or two away from being competitive. Maybe they're right. Maybe not. In either case, I want a season we can be proud of. Now is the time for the Avs to grow up. Now is the time for them to make their greatest strides yet. And tonight is the night they rock the Pepsi Center's roof off.

Preseason, you had my curiosity. Regular season, you have my attention.

Now bring on the gifs.

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7:30 PM MT/9:30 PM ET
TV: RDS2, ALT
Click here for information on the Mile High Hockey pre-game meetup.

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