By Kyle Shohara
DETROIT – The Ducks (23-7-5, 51 points) begin a four-game road trip tonight in Detroit to face the Red Wings (15-11-9, 39 points) at Joe Louis Arena (4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, AM 830).
The temperature inside JLA was a welcome relief from the 15-degree wind chill outside, and the red-hot Ducks will look to keep the Red Wings on ice tonight.
Anaheim enters tonight’s contest on a five-game winning streak, and currently sits second in the league with 51 points, trailing only Chicago. On the other hand, the Red Wings enter tonight’s game winless in their last five (0-3-2) and tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Tonight marks the first meeting between the Ducks and Red Wings, and the first in Detroit since Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals (4-3 OT victory for Detroit) on May 10.
Although that was last season, Saku Koivu said it’ll still be on the minds of the players prior to game time.
“Coming into this building where we remember what happened in the playoffs, that should get the boys up for a good start,” he said. “Getting a win in the first game and then continuing to the New York area would be good for us.”
The Ducks haven’t fared well at Joe Louis Arena over the years. In fact, they’ve only won four games (4-25-8) all-time in Detroit.
“They’ve had their core guys for a long time here,” Koivu said, on Detroit's success. “They’re well-coached. They play very confident hockey and they move the puck well. The one thing that comes to my mind is how hard they work, and their defensive side of the game. They don’t really allow a lot of chances and shots. It’s just a well-balanced team with some young guys coming up and playing well for them. We’re expecting a real tough game, especially the first period.”
HOMECOMING FOR CAM
Defenseman Cam Fowler grew up in Farmington Hills, approximately 25 miles outside of Detroit. The 22-year-old had fond memories of Joe Louis Arena, and he made his NHL debut here on Oct. 8, 2010 in front of friends and family.
Fowler was the center of attention inside the Ducks locker room after the morning skate.
“It’s great. It’s a special place for me,” he said. “I’ve been in this building a lot growing up. To come back and play against the team I watched growing up, and playing in front of my friends and family is something that’s special to me. It’s something I’m looking forward to.”
After missing 24 games with a broken right hand suffered on Oct. 25 at Ottawa, Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg said he’s good to go for tonight’s game.
The 23-year-old Swede skated on a line with Koivu and Andrew Cogliano during the morning skate, and was admittedly excited about returning to the lineup.
“The original plan was to play by the end of this road trip, but I’ve been progressing pretty good and my hand feels fine,” he said. “I feel like I’m ready. I wanted to play, so I’m happy.”
Adds Silfverberg, “I’ve been taking the safe route here, and I feel very happy about where I am right now. It’s 100 percent healed and my hand feels fine, too. There’s no doubt.”
Anaheim and Detroit open a two-game season series tonight at Joe Louis Arena. The Ducks face the Red Wings for the first time as an Eastern Conference opponent after 75 games within the Western Conference. Anaheim owns an all-time record of 20-43-12 vs. Detroit, including a 4-25-8 mark at Joe Louis Arena. The Ducks earned a 5-2 victory in their last regular-season visit to Detroit on Feb. 15, 2013. These two teams met in the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinals, which Detroit won in seven games.
Teemu Selanne leads Anaheim skaters in career scoring vs. Detroit, earning 60 points (24g/36a) in 69 games. Following tonight's game, the season series will shift to Anaheim for its finale on Jan. 12.