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New beginnings for Ducks, Wings

by Brian Compton
DUCKS (0-0-0) at RED WINGS (0-0-0)

TV: FSN-Prime Ticket, Fox Sports-Detroit.

Season Series: The teams split four games in 2009-10; Detroit won the first two games at Joe Louis Arena before Anaheim outscored the Red Wings by a 7-2 margin over the final two contests at the Honda Center.

Big Story: Both teams are coming off disappointing seasons. After back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final, the Red Wings were ousted in the second round of the 2010 postseason by the San Jose Sharks. Anaheim, meanwhile, missed the playoffs entirely despite a ton of firepower up front. The Wings added some more veteran leadership this summer with the addition of Mike Modano, while the Ducks were able to sign Bobby Ryan to a new five-year contract.

Team Scope:

Ducks: You don't just replace someone like Scott Niedermayer, but luck may have been on the Ducks' side when Cam Fowler fell into their laps at the NHL Entry Draft. Projected to be a top-five selection, Fowler slipped all the way to No. 12 before Ducks GM Bob Murray called his name at the Staples Center.

Fowler, 18, will make his NHL debut on Friday night. He had 55 points (8 goals, 47 assists) in 55 games for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last season.

"You don't look at him as an 18-year-old kid. You look at him as a hockey player," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's done everything to earn the opportunity to play. We think he's a special kid, but we always have to caution ourselves. You don't want to put him in situations that he can't possibly survive in. It's a feather in his cap that he's made it this far. For him not to play, something drastic would have to happen."

Red Wings: Experience pays in this League, and boy, do the Wings have plenty of it. They enter the 2010-11 season as the oldest team in the NHL, as 10 regulars are at least 35 years of age. But Detroit added some depth this summer with not only the addition of Modano, but Jiri Hudler returns after one season in the KHL. Hudler played a key role in Detroit's run to a Stanley Cup title in 2008.

"We're trying to get back to being the Red Wings, not like last year when we were taped together all year, had no depth and we rode people too hard so when we got to the playoffs we were exhausted," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We think Nick (Lidstrom) has some left in him, but not if we're defending all the time. We need to get the puck and go. Our goal is to be loaded up."

Injury Report: Ducks RW Joffrey Lupul (back) isn't expected to return until December at the earliest, while D Toni Lydman (double vision) is out indefinitely. LW Jason Jaffray (torn ACL) is likely out for the season. … The Wings enter the season with no major injuries.

Stat Pack: The 2009-10 season marked the first time the Ducks missed the playoffs since the NHL returned from a work stoppage in 2005. Anaheim won its lone Stanley Cup championship in 2007. … Detroit has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year since 1991. They have won four Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008) during that span.

Puck Drop: "We really feel we're a much better team, depth-wise, talent-wise, than we were at this time last year. A lot of our guys that were hurt bad last year have done a real good job with their conditioning and are stronger and fitter. Because of the break we had this summer, guys are fresh and excited and ready to go." -- Wings coach Mike Babcock

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