banner

NHL

more stats

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, October 2nd (All times Eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (0-0-0) at Detroit Red Wings (0-0-0), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings will play their first game as a member of the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, as they welcome the Buffalo Sabres to Joe Louis Arena in the season opener for both teams.

Every NHL team has new divisional opponents thanks to this season's realignment plan, but only the Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets switched conferences. Detroit had been a member of the Western Conference since the last time the NHL realigned the league before the 1993-94 season.

The Sabres and Red Wings now find themselves in the new iteration of the Atlantic Division, a group that also includes Boston, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. It's one of the NHL's four divisions and the top three finishers in each group will receive automatic bids to the playoffs.

Detroit has made the playoffs in 22 straight seasons and Mike Babcock's club is a good bet to make it 23 appearances in a row in the spring of 2014 after making it to the second round in 2013. Buffalo, however, is a club in the midst of a rebuilding phase, although there is hope the reclamation project won't take too long to bear fruit.

The Red Wings made some notable additions to their offense last summer, signing forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss to free-agent deals. Of course, the signing of the former guy made big waves in Ottawa, which was Alfredsson's home for his entire NHL career before the 40-year old signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract to join Detroit.

Alfredsson has said he expects to hear boos when the Red Wings visit their new division rival in Ottawa for the first time this season, although that first trip to Canada's capital city won't come until Dec. 1.

With Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg still expected to do most of the heavy lifting on offense, the Red Wings don't need Alfredsson or Weiss to play like superstars, only to provide a boost to the team's offensive depth.

"The biggest thing for our team, we look good on paper, we have good depth, good team, we have to execute on the ice," said Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary. "I'm looking forward to playing these new teams more often. It'll be great for everybody involved, the fans, the media, just a different look."

Jimmy Howard will get the call in net for the Red Wings on Wednesday after turning in his best season as an NHLer in 2013, going 21-13-7 with a 2.13 goals against average and .923 save percentage in 42 appearances. The 29-year- old also tied with four other players for the league lead with five shutouts, giving Howard 11 white-washings over his last two seasons.

Ryan Miller will face Howard tonight and, along with sniper Thomas Vanek, the Buffalo goaltender is one of his team's best assets.

However, Miller, a former Vezina Trophy winner, did not have his best season in 2013, although that had something to do with Buffalo's lack of depth on both sides of the ice. Miller went 17-17-5 in 2013 and his goals against average of 2.81 was his highest number of any season in which he played in at least 10 games. Miller also failed to record a single shutout for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign, when the American played in only three games.

Both Miller and Vanek, who had 20 goals and 41 points in 38 games last season, are impending unrestricted free agents and could be used as trade bait during this season for the rebuilding Sabres. However, Miller says he hasn't ruled out re-signing with Buffalo when his contract is up at the end of the season, even if the Sabres decide to trade him before he is scheduled to hits free agency in the summer of 2014.

Vanek, meanwhile, was named as Buffalo's co-captain along with Steve Ott earlier this week. Ott will serve as captain in road games, while Vanek will take on the duties at home.

On the injury front, Buffalo will be without forwards Marcus Foligno (strained shoulder) and Corey Tropp (jaw surgery) and defenseman Nikita Zadorov (lacerated finger). All three players are currently on injured reserve.

The Sabres have missed the playoffs in two straight and four of the last six seasons, and the chances of returning to the postseason in 2014 seem slim heading into this campaign.

Because teams from opposing conference didn't play each other during the lockout-shortened season of 2013, this will mark the first meeting between the Sabres and Red Wings since 2011-12, when Detroit won both encounters.

The Red Wings are 19-2-1 with a tie in the last 23 meetings between these teams overall and Buffalo has lost three straight and 11 of its last 12 games in the Motor City.

10/02 10:54:01 ET

Other Stories

Hurricanes

Canes top NHL’s-best Ducks in shootout, 3-2 12
Canes bench under-performing Alexander Semin

"Right now, he is not in the lineup," Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said Friday about the status of winger Alexander Semin.

Related Stories
  • ACC: North Carolina vs. Miami

    Today at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego vs. Miami

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida vs. Georgia

    Today at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Notre Dame vs. Navy

    Tonight at 8:00 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Duke at Pittsburgh

    Today at 12:00 pm on 620am

  • Big Ten: Maryland at Penn State

    Today at 12:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Syracuse

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes vs Arizona Coyotes

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
12:00pm Today
PITT
DUKE
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
ECU
12:30pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
3:00pm Today
SYR
NCSU
4:00pm Today
BCOOK
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
MEM
 
Final
IND 89
MEM 97
Final
CHI 108
CLE 114
Final
MIL 93
PHI 81
Final
SAC 103
POR 94
Final
PHO 94
SAN 89
Final
LAL 111
LAC 118
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
MEM
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIA
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
MIL
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
BOS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DEN
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
PHO
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAL
 
Final
TULA 14
CIN 38
Final
MEM 40
TULSA 20
11:30am Today
ARMY
AFA
12:00pm Today
PITT
DUKE
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
ECU
12:00pm Today
PSU
MD
12:00pm Today
IOWA
NW
12:00pm Today
ISU
OKLA
12:00pm Today
FIU
RICE
12:00pm Today
UCONN
UCF
12:00pm Today
TEXAM
LAMON
12:00pm Today
RUTG
WISC
12:30pm Today
VT
BC
12:30pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
1:00pm Today
EMICH
CMICH
1:00pm Today
COL
WASH
2:30pm Today
UMO
WMICH
3:00pm Today
SYR
NCSU
3:00pm Today
LATU
WKENT
3:30pm Today
MTST
BYU
3:30pm Today
UGA
UF
3:30pm Today
APPST
GASTATE
3:30pm Today
MICH
IND
3:30pm Today
NEB
PURD
3:30pm Today
WVU
TCU
3:30pm Today
GT
UVA
4:00pm Today
SFLA
HOU
4:00pm Today
BAY
KU
4:00pm Today
MIZZ
KENT
4:00pm Today
NMST
TXST
4:30pm Today
WASU
USC
5:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
ARKST
5:00pm Tonight
LALAF
SALABAMA
5:30pm Tonight
UNLV
NMU
7:00pm Tonight
MISS
AUB
7:00pm Tonight
SJST
COLST
7:00pm Tonight
VANDY
ODU
7:00pm Tonight
FATL
UAB
7:15pm Tonight
MSST
ARK
7:30pm Tonight
OREG
STAN
7:30pm Tonight
SCAR
TENN
7:30pm Tonight
TTU
TEX
8:00pm Tonight
OSU
ILL
8:00pm Tonight
NAVY
ND
8:00pm Tonight
KST
OKST
8:00pm Tonight
UTEP
SMISS
10:30pm Tonight
UCLA
ARZ
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
NEV
SDST
10:45pm Tonight
FRES
WYO
11:00pm Tonight
HAW
UTST
11:00pm Tonight
ARST
UTAH
Final
CLB 1
TOR 4
Final
DET 5
LOS 2
Final
DAL 1
ANA 2
Final
CAL 4
NAS 3
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
OTT
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLA
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
WAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
WIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
COL
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DAL
 
10:00pm Tonight
EDM
VAN
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
NYI
 
4:00pm Today
BCOOK
NCCU