Final

Series (Game 1 of 4)

Detroit leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, October 8th
Ducks0Final
Red Wings4
Game 2: Saturday, October 23rd
Ducks4Final
Red Wings5
Game 3: Friday, December 3rd
Red Wings4Final
Ducks0
Game 4: Wednesday, March 2nd
Red Wings1Final
OT
Ducks2

Ducks 0

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Red Wings 4

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

7:30 PM ET, October 8, 2010

Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan

1 2 3 T
ANA 0 0 00
DET 2 2 04

P. Datsyuk (Red Wings - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

J. Howard (Red Wings - G): Saves: 21, Save Pct.: 1.000

D. Cleary (Red Wings - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Ducks-Red Wings Preview

STATS LLC

With one of the more experienced rosters in the league, the Detroit Red Wings are once again Stanley Cup contenders.

Keeping those veterans healthy could determine whether the Red Wings fulfill those lofty expectations.

After struggling with injuries in 2009-10, Detroit will try to get that title hunt off to a strong start Friday night at Joe Louis Arena against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Red Wings begin this season with 12 players who are 30 or older, including a pair 40-year-olds in defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and center Mike Modano. Henrik Zetterberg turns 30 on Saturday and defenseman Niklas Kronwall celebrates that milestone birthday Jan. 12.

That experience helped the franchise claim its 11th Stanley Cup in 2008 and nearly another in 2009, but a rash of ailments kept Detroit from its usual spot as one of the Western Conference's top three seeds.

The Red Wings reached the playoffs for 19th consecutive year -- one shy of their franchise record -- but had its eight-season reign atop the Central Division end.

Zetterberg and Johan Franzen were among 10 players who spent time on the injured list, and Lidstrom was only one of three players to appear in all 82 games.

The Red Wings seem relatively healthy heading into this campaign. Kris Draper is dealing with an ailing groin, and Justin Abdelkader's status is also unknown for Friday because of a rib injury.

"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," coach Mike Babcock told the league's website.

The Red Wings failed to reach the conference finals for the first time in four years in 2010, but could return if goaltender Jimmy Howard continues to improve and the offense clicks better.

Howard, a Calder Trophy finalist, was 37-15-10 with a 2.26 goals-against average, fifth-best in the NHL.

After tallying a league-best 289 goals in 2008-09, Detroit had 223 last season but will get Jiri Hudler back. Hudler, who scored a career-best 23 times in 2008-09, played last season in Russia with Dynamo Moscow after signing a two-year, $10 million deal but became available when that team went defunct.

"Hudler is a better player than people think," Babcock told the league's website. "I missed him way more last season than I thought I was going to miss him. To me, the kid is magic. We're thrilled to have him back."

The Red Wings are also hoping Modano will boost the offense. The Michigan native, who has the most goals (557) and points (1,359) for an American-born player, recorded 30 points in the final of his 20 seasons with the Dallas Stars franchise.

Those additions could lessen the scoring burden on forward Pavel Datsyuk, who tallied 70 points in 2009-10 after consecutive 97-point seasons.

Likewise, Anaheim's All-Star center Ryan Getzlaf is trying to bounce back from a subpar season as he becomes the franchise's eighth captain.

Getzlaf's 19 goals and 50 assists in 2009-10 were his fewest in three seasons, and injuries cost him 16 games.

"It's an honor and a responsibility that I accept," the 25-year-old Getzlaf told the team's website. "I've thought of myself as a leader and I will try to be the same way throughout this year. I'm up for the challenge and am looking forward to it."

After pushing the Red Wings to seven games in the 2008 playoffs, the Ducks were denied a fifth consecutive berth after failing to overcome another slow start.

Anaheim was 3-6-1 through its first 10 games and finished 11th in the West, five points behind eighth-place Colorado. The Ducks also had the fourth-fewest points on the road (34) among West teams.

Jonas Hiller is the Ducks No. 1 goaltender after former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere was traded to Toronto on Jan. 31.

The Ducks, though, will have to get over the retirement of another Conn Smythe winner, former captain and defenseman Scott Niedermayer.

While Niedermayer is gone, Finnish veteran forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koviu will provide depth alongside younger stars Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, who is expected to move to center.

The Ducks have lost four straight at Joe Louis Arena, where they are 3-22-4 all-time.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPNLosAngeles.com