DETROIT – Compete harder and play better defensively.
That's what the Anaheim Ducks want to do Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
Those were Ducks biggest issues in their first game of the season Thursday, a 6-4 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Just competing and defensive assignments. I think those were the two things that stuck out, in my mind,” said center Ryan Kesler, who had a goal and two assists in his first game with Anaheim after being acquired from the Vancouver Canucks for forward Nick Bonino, defenseman Lucas Sbisa and a draft pick during the NHL Draft in June.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said it's not unusual for teams expected to be one of the best in the NHL, like Anaheim this season, to not play well in the first game of the season.
“I feel better after that game because I always feel better about the second game. A team comes in with expectations … It's a wake-up call,” Boudreau said. “This is a really good League. No matter what the prognosticators said over the summer. You've got to work real hard. That's why we had the practice that we did yesterday ...We lost battles all over the ice. Forwards, defensemen, everybody.”
Kesler is from the Detroit suburb of Livonia and despite playing at Joe Louis Arena countless times over his 11-season career, he still looks forward to playing there.
“It's always special,” Kesler said. “It's not going to be around much longer and it's always great to play where I came to watch the Red Wings play.”
Ground has been broken on a new arena that is scheduled to open for the 2017-18 season.
Detroit got two assists and an overall dominant performance from right wing Johan Franzen in their first game, a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
That's the way the Red Wings need Franzen to play all the time but the veteran has been streaky and inconsistent at times. He averages nearly 30 goals per season but regularly goes into prolonged slumps, followed by point and goal-scoring streaks.
“Well it’s just a challenge for him, he has the ability—we talk about this lots—he has the ability physically to be a dominant, dominant player in this League,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “But it’s not your ability physically that makes you a dominant player every day, it’s your ability mentally that makes you a dominant player and it’s that mental toughness. Everyone thinks superstars are so skilled, they got a mind they got a drive train that makes them so good.”
Babcock said that the Red Wings first line wings, Franzen and Justin Abdelkader (with captain Henrik Zetterberg at center) will have their hands full against Anaheim's top line of Ryan Getzlaf between Corey Perry and Patrick Maroon.
“[Franzen] and Abdelkader gotta be big. They’re playing against a real good line,” the Detroit coach said.
Here are the projected lineups:
Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Devante Smith-Pelly
Andrew Cogliano - William Karlsson - Jakob Silfverberg
Emerson Etem - Nate Thompson - Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy
Francois Beauchemin - Hampus Lindholm
Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen
Scratched: Richard Rakell, Mark Fistric
Injured: Kyle Palmieri (ankle), Dany Heatley (groin)
Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Johan Franzen
Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco
Gustav Nyquist - Darren Helm - Andrej Nestrasil
Joakim Andersson - Luke Glendening - Drew Miller
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Dan DeKeyser - Brendan Smith
Kyle Quincey - Jabub Kindl
Scratched: Stephen Weiss, Dan Cleary, Brian Lashoff
Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder)
STATUS REPORT: Red Wings winger Drew Miller began his NHL career with the Ducks and helped them win the 2007 Stanley Cup. ... Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler was born in Windsor, Ontario, which is across the Detroit River from Detroit and grew up in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills. … Detroit coach Mike Babcock began his NHL head-coaching career with Anaheim, taking the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season, 2002-03. … Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano played at the University of Michigan. … Anaheim goalie John Gibson played for the U.S. National Team Development Program, which is based in Ann Arbor, MI.
WHO'S HOT: Corey Perry scored three goals in Anaheim's 6-4 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.