The Ducks (27-20-6, 60 points; 5th place, Western Conference) have been bolstered by the return of defenseman Scott Niedermayer, the winner of last season’s Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. The team also announced today that 10-time All-Star Teemu Selanne has returned to the Ducks.
The Red Wings (37-10-4, 78 points; 1st place, Western Conference) have the NHL’s best record with 37 wins and 78 points, led by goaltender Chris Osgood, who ranks first in the league in goals against average (1.87), and stalwart defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
, who leads the NHL in plus/minus (+40). Lidstrom was the last defenseman to win the Conn Smythe (2002) prior to Niedermayer. NBC STUDIO ANALYST MIKE MILBURY ON DUCKS-WINGS:
“These two teams are the gold standard by which all others are judged. The Ducks have tried to establish a physical presence against Detroit and we should expect the same strategy.” NBC INSIDE THE GLASS ANALYST AND STUDIO HOST PIERRE MCGUIRE ON DUCKS-WINGS:
“This is a really contentious rivalry now and a great contest of physicality and speed. These are the two best teams in the west and my favorites to reach the conference final again." FLEX SCHEDULING:
NBC is in its third season as the network broadcast partner of the NHL with a new innovation: the NHL will offer flexible scheduling for NBC's nine regular season dates (see below schedule).
NBC can select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, NBC, in conjunction with the NHL, will select one of those games as the "Game of the Week" to be broadcast during the NBC window. The other games will remain available to the teams’ regional carrier but will not be televised during NBC's broadcast window.
All NBC regular-season games will be broadcast on Sundays for the first time and all games will be presented in high definition. NBC will broadcast postseason games on select Saturdays and Sundays, and Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup final in primetime. CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR THE NHL ON NBC:
NBC's NHL coverage has received critical acclaim, earning praise for innovations such as "Inside the Glass," a reporter position between the teams' benches first introduced by NBC hockey producer Sam Flood.
ESPN.com said of NBC's hockey coverage, "the NHL has never looked or sounded better in its free, on-the-air history."
The Hockey News called "Inside the Glass," "the biggest innovation to hit televised hockey in recent years."
"Hockey has found a network that will let the sport be the sport," said the San Jose Mercury News.
The Toronto Globe said: "NBC brings more energy than the CBC", and "NBC, producing its first Stanley Cup final telecast of the postseason, equaled and, at a few key points, bettered the CBC."