RED WINGS (0-0-0) at BLUES (0-0-0)
TV: FS-D, FS-MW
Season series: This is the first meeting of the season between Detroit and St. Louis.
Big story: After months of waiting, the Blues will finally begin the defense of their first Central Division title in 12 years. Detroit's night might be even more dramatic, however, as the Wings play their first game of the post-Lidstrom era.
Red Wings: Many teams made dramatic personnel moves this offseason that significantly altered their rosters. But few teams in the League have to deal with as difficult a transition as the Wings, who for the first time in 22 years will be playing without future-Hall-of-Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom announced his retirement this offseason and while Detroit, owner of the NHL's longest string of postseason appearances, still returns with a talented, deep and experienced lineup, it's hard to imagine there won't be a void in the locker room -- to say nothing of on the blue line -- that must be filled.
Henrik Zetterberg will be tasked with replacing Lidstrom's leadership, having been named the Wings' captain earlier this week, but Detroit is lucky that Cup-winning veterans like Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Cleary and Johan Franzen will also be there to grease the Winged Wheels. As for the defense corps, replacing Lidstrom is likely an impossibly tall order, but Detroit did sign Carlo Colaiacovo away from St. Louis in September to bolster its back end, a move that could pay immediate dividends Saturday night.
Blues: St. Louis has waited a long time to raise another banner at Scottrade Center, but 12 years after the Blues won the franchise's only Presidents' Trophy, they will have a 2011-12 Central Division champions banner to keep it company. The task of getting another banner for 2012-13 -- or even a banner of greater significance -- will be a considerable challenge in the loaded Central Division, but St. Louis believes it has the pieces in place.
The Blues' top six scorers from last season are all returning, including potent defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, and St. Louis still has 2012 Jennings Trophy winners Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott in net, which means the ingredients are there for another division-title run. That potential run, however, despite the void Detroit has to fill on defense, will face a stiff test on opening night.
Injury report: Detroit is already facing setbacks on the injury front. Darren Helm (back) is not expected to play Saturday while Mikael Samuelsson (groin) is doubtful and Colaiacovo (shoulder) is questionable for his first potential reunion with his former team.
Additional Notes: Opening Night will feature live music from Paint the Earth beginning at 5:15 p.m. in the Scottrade Center atrium. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. to enjoy the pre-game show and player introductions. All fans in attendance will receive a Rally Towel courtesy of Enterprise. In addition, all fans will receive a coupon good for a FREE 12 oz. Pepsi and a buy one / get one free hot dog. Fans will also receive a coupon good for $10 off a $50 purchase at Famous Footwear locations.
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