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Sabres-Red Wings kicks off Wednesday Night Rivalry

Wednesday, 10.02.2013 / 10:27 AM
John Kreiser  - NHL.com Columnist

For the first time in 40 years, the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres will open the season as division rivals.

The Sabres come to Joe Louis Arena for the 2013-14 season's first edition of NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry. Following realignment, both teams are members of the new Atlantic Division, along with the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. They haven't been together since both were part of the East Division in 1973-74.

The Red Wings are delighted to be back in the Eastern Conference, where they'll travel less and be reunited with several of their traditional rivals.

"Those things are all exciting. I think change is exciting and you want to embrace it," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "This is a new opportunity for our team. Instead of one Original Six team, we get to play against four others, so that's a positive, positive thing for us and the players really like that. The travel is going to be way better. Fans are going to get to see us easier and as coaches we're going to get to pre-scout at seven at night instead of 10 at night, which is kind of nice. When you put it all together, it's a positive thing."

The teams are coming off vastly different seasons. Detroit extended its streak of consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearances to 22 by finishing seventh in the Western Conference, and upset the Anaheim Ducks in the first round before losing to the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. Buffalo missed the playoffs for the second straight season, finishing 12th among the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres haven't won a playoff series since advancing to the Eastern Conference Final in 2007.

The game will mark the Red Wing debuts of forward Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss, both of whom signed with Detroit during the offseason.

The best-known Sabre to make his debut figures to be defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who turns 19 at the end of the month. Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft is expected to be in the lineup. He'll be part of a young team that's trying to rebuild.

"You're probably not going to see the potential of our team unfold for a couple of months," Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. "But everyone is excited about it. And everyone has expectations that we've got what we need here now."

Buffalo and Detroit haven't met in more than 18 months; the Red Wings blitzed the Sabres 5-0 at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 16, 2012. That was their fourth win in a row against the Sabres, who haven't beaten Detroit since a 6-2 victory at First Niagara Center on Oct. 13, 2009.

Buffalo Sabres Detroit Red Wings

21-21-6 (5th, Northeast) 2012-13 Record 24-16-8 (3rd, Central)

421-372-55-82 All-Time Record 2735-2300-815-92

53-47-13-3 Head-to-Head Regular-Season Record 50-52-13-1

0-2-2 Streak vs. Opponent 4-0-0

0-1-2 @Detroit Home/road streak vs. Opponent 11-0-1 vs. Buffalo

0 Stanley Cups 1

66 Hall of Famers 7

Gordie Howe Most Famous Alumnus Gilbert Perreault

9 Hart Trophy winners 2

61 Postseason appearances 29

Alfredsson/Weiss Best offseason acquisition/s Tallinder/McBain

Dominik Hasek (1992-2001) Best Player in Common Dominik Hasek (2001-02);

2003-04; 2006-08)

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