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Red Wings start Eastern Conference play vs. Sabres

by Mike G. Morreale /

SABRES (0-0-0) at RED WINGS (0-0-0)


Season series: While there isn't much of a history between the organizations, it's the third time the teams will face off in a season opener. Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom led the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at Joe Louis Arena in 1999, and during the 1975-76 season the Sabres won 4-0 win at Memorial Auditorium. In the most recent meeting between the teams, Jan. 16, 2012, the Red Wings scored a 5-0 victory, the second win in two games against the Sabres that season.

Big Story: The Red Wings begin play in the Eastern Conference with two additions -- Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson. The move to the East was music to the ears of players and coaches since the team will be playing the majority of its road games against teams in the same time zone. Detroit will play 14 games outside of the Eastern time zone this season, 15 fewer than in 2011-12, the lasy 82-game season.

Team Scope:

Sabres: One of the biggest talking points of the preseason was who coach Ron Rolston would have at center to begin the 2013-14 season. It appears as if Cody Hodgson will be the top-line center, with left wing Thomas Vanek. Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko played all seven preseason games in the middle while Cody McCormick served as center in the team's last few preseason games. Tyler Ennis was shifted to center two weeks ago and has been playing there ever since. Kevin Porter might also see significant time at center.

Vanek and Steve Ott were named the team's new captains on Tuesday. Vanek will serve as captain for home games and Ott on the road.

Red Wings: The Red Wings lost four of their final five preseason games to finish 3-5 in September. The good news is that in the one victory during that stretch, Daniel Alfredsson earned his first preseason start and finished with a goal, an assist and four shots on goal. Alfredsson had missed the previous four games with a sore groin.

"I had some very good looks where I didn't bury it, but it feels good when you have the puck and you're playing on the offensive side more," Alfredsson told reporters after the game. "It gives you more energy, and I thought we had fun out there."

Injury Report: The Red Wings are expected to be without forwards Darren Helm (lower back, groin) and Patrick Eaves (MCL, ankle), and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin). … Sabres right wing Corey Tropp will miss approximately one month after having surgery to repair a broken jaw and forward Joel Armia (broken hand) is out. Forward Marcus Foligno (upper body) is doubtful with a muscle strain.


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