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Red Wings raise banner, curtain on season

by Adam Schwartz /
The NHL's 91st regular season finally gets under way in North America on Thursday night when Detroit raises its 11th Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena.

After the Red Wings begin defense of their title by hosting Toronto, Boston faces off against Colorado at the Pepsi Center at 10 p.m.

Two 10:30 p.m. starts feature a Northwest Division showdown when Calgary visits Vancouver and Pacific Division rivals Anaheim and San Jose go at it.

Here's what to keep an eye out for:

* Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, who won his second Stanley Cup as a starting goalie last season and third altogether, had a 3-0 record in the preseason and allowed just 4 goals during that span. Osgood, who has won the second-most games in Detroit's history with 279, is just 3 shutouts shy of 50 in his career.

* Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who has won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman 6 of the past 7 seasons, holds the single-season record for assists by a Red Wings defenseman with 64 in 2005-06.

* Maple Leafs right wing Nik Antropov, who had a career-high 56 points last season, was second among Toronto players with a plus-10 rating. Despite playing for Toronto, which hasn't made the playoffs in the last 3 seasons, Antropov has a plus-31 rating during that span.

* Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn, who was selected No. 5 by the Maple Leafs at the 2008 Entry Draft, had 100 penalty minutes in just 58 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League last season. Schenn, who could make his NHL debut Thursday, has a brother Braydon who is among the top prospects for next June's draft.

* Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, who missed 72 games with a concussion last season after being hit by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones, had a goal and 5 assists in Boston's 8 preseason games, including a 4-point game against the Islanders.

* Colorado center Joe Sakic, who has been with the franchise since they were the Quebec Nordiques, has played more seasons with one franchise than any active player at 19. Sakic, who kept Avalanche General Manager Francois Giguere in limbo this summer as to whether or not he would retire, has been the only captain since the club moved from Quebec.

* Calgary center Daymond Langkow, who is playing on the Flames' top line with Todd Bertuzzi and Jarome Iginla, has scored at least 20 goals in his past 6 seasons and has scored at least 30 goals in his last 2 seasons. Langkow played for the Lightning, Flyers and Coyotes before landing in Calgary, where he has a plus-41 rating in 3 seasons.

* Canucks left wing Mason Raymond, who played 49 games with Vancouver last season, figures to stick with the Canucks for the full season. Raymond, who had 17 points in 20 games with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League last season, is going to be counted on as a depth forward by Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.

* Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund, who has been with the Canucks for his 10 seasons in the League, led the club with an average of 23:46 of ice time last season. Ohlund, an alternate captain that has played the fifth-most games in Canucks history with 688, missed 29 games last season -- the most he has missed since the 1999-00 season.

* Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who was named captain for the second time this summer, missed 34 games last season while deciding whether or not to retire. Niedermayer, who won the Stanley Cup 3 times with New Jersey and once with Anaheim, finished last season with a minus-2 rating -- the first time he had a minus rating since the 1996-97 season.

* Anaheim, which was eliminated by Dallas in six games in the first round of the playoffs last season, had a 6-1-1 preseason record. The Ducks, who were one of just 5 teams in the League to earn 100 points last season, led the Pacific Division in preseason goal scoring with 28.

* Sharks center Patrick Marleau, whose minus-19 rating during the regular season was the worst on the team, was tied for third on the team with 8 points in 13 playoff games last season. Marleau, who has often been rumored to be traded, has the franchise record of 795 games played.

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