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MacLean makes coaching debut vs. former team

by Frank Mentesana /

SENATORS (0-0-0) at RED WINGS (0-0-0)


Season series:
This is the lone meeting between the Senators and Wings, who won last season's only meeting 7-5, in Ottawa on the night play resumed after the All-Star break. Johan Franzen scored five goals in that contest and has eight in his last three games against the Senators. Detroit seeks its fourth straight victory and its 10th out the last 13 against Ottawa.

Big Story:
These teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum as they open their seasons in the Motor City. The Red Wings are a veteran club with 20 straight postseason appearances -- the longest such streak in North American professional sports -- in search of their 12th Stanley Cup. The Senators are a young squad -- 12 players on their roster are 25 or younger -- and have failed to qualify for the playoffs in two out of the last three seasons, including a last-place finish in 2010-11. One link connecting the teams is the man who will be making his coaching debut behind the Ottawa bench -- Paul MacLean. For the previous six seasons, MacLean served as an assistant in Detroit, winning a championship as part of Mike Babcock's staff in 2008.

Team Scope:

Senators: MacLean takes over for Cory Clouston, who was fired after the Senators finished 32-40-10 in 2009-10, but he isn't the only new face on Opening Night. There could be as many as 10 different players on the opening-day roster. The one the team may be most excited about is Mika Zibanejad, the sixth pick in June's Entry Draft, who made the team after a very strong preseason. The 18-year-old Swedish center will make his NHL debut on Friday, hoping to help an offense that finished with the second-worst goals-per-game last season at 2.32.

One man who is anything but new to Ottawa fans is the team's 38-year-old captain, Daniel Alfredsson, who's back for his 16th season with the Senators. Alfredsson is looking to bounce back after back problems limited him to a career-low 54 games, during which he scored 14 goals and 17 assists.

Red Wings: The Wings might have lost Chris Osgood, Brian Rafalski and Kris Draper to retirement, but their captain and seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom is back for yet another season. He leads a perennial winning team that's trying to win the Central Division for the 10th time in 11 seasons. While they maintain a large veteran presence with the likes of Lidstrom, Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings will also feature some key young talent. Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, both 24, will be counted on to fill in some of the void left by departing players.

In goal, Jimmy Howard enters his third season as the No. 1 netminder. Detroit hopes he can be the main factor in reducing the 2.89 goals-per-game the team gave up last season, which ranked them 23rd in the League.

Who's Hot: Franzen and Valtteri Filppula were among the top point-getters in the preseason with six points each for Detroit. Helm also had a strong training camp, notching one shorthanded goal in preseason play.

Injury Report:
The Senators will be without center Peter Regin (shoulder), whose availability is also in doubt for Ottawa's game on Saturday in Toronto. In addition, Jesse Winchester (shoulder) and Matt Carkner (knee) begin the season on IR. …For the Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk (sore back), Henrik Zetterberg (upper body), and Cleary (upper body) were back at practice on Tuesday and are probable, while Mike Commodore (knee) and Patrick Eaves (foot) did not skate. According to the Wings web site, Commodore is likely the only player who won't be available after being injured last week in Chicago.

Stat Pack: Craig Anderson prepares for his first full season in net for Ottawa after performing very well since being acquired from Colorado last February. He went 11-5-1 with a 2.05 GAA for the Senators and was rewarded with a four-year, $12.75 million contract extension.

Puck Drop: "For sure, there will be (nerves). I'm sure there will be. I just hope I'm not scared to death, but I think I'll be all right," MacLean told the Senators website, speaking about making his coaching debut in his old stomping grounds.

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