Season Series: This game marks the first meeting of four between these two Western Conference rivals. Last season, they split their four-game series.
Big Story: There is nothing more exciting than the start of a new NHL season -- especially for the Avalanche, who finished last season with the second-fewest points in the league, but now have a revamped roster and a lot to prove. Meanwhile, the Red Wings bowed out after a grueling Western Conference semifinal last season, but with a summer to recuperate and largely the same roster returning, the Red Wings are poised make another deep run.
"We think that we have a good team," center Henrik Zetterberg told DetroitRedWings.com. "We know that we'll be there again in the end, and that's our goal. We really think that we can do it."
It’s always fascinating when the Avalanche and the Red Wings face each other because of their bitter rivalry that began in the 1990s and only started to dwindle down in recent years. These historic rivals will be eager to set the tone for the 2011-12 season. Prior to the start of the game, Peter Forsberg, who played a big role in that rivalry, will have his jersey raised to the rafters.
Red Wings: The Red Wings opened the 2011-12 season at home with a 5-3 victory over the Senators on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard stopped 35 shots and the Wings scored five straight goals; however, they allowed three unanswered goals in the third period.
"I didn’t like the way we played the third," coach Mike Babcock said. "It's something that we have to get past, being lackadaisical and suddenly the other team is back in the game."
With largely the same roster as last season, including Zetterberg and fellow superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit looks as menacing as ever in the Western Conference.
Over the summer the Wings did lose defenseman Brian Rafalski, center Kris Draper and goaltender Chris Osgood, all to retirement, but the front office brought in Ian White and Mike Commodore to help on the blue line.
Avalanche: After finishing with the second-fewest points in the League for the second time in three seasons, it was obvious that something in Colorado needed to change. So general manager Greg Sherman brought in a brand-new goalie tandem in Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
After shipping John-Michael Liles to Toronto, the Avalanche welcome Jan Hejda and Shane O'Brien to the blue line. They also signed Gabriel Landeskog, taken with the No. 2 pick in this summer's draft, to play on the left wing.
The big question in Denver is: will the Avalanche form some chemistry after going 1-5 in the preseason?
Who's Hot: Both Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen notched 6 points in four preseason games with 2 goals and 4 assists each for the Red Wings.
Injury Report: In Detroit, Mike Commodore (MCL) was placed on injured reserve, and Patrick Eaves (foot) missed a practice this week, so his status for Saturday’s game is unknown. … The Avalanche have placed defenseman Kyle Cumiskey (groin), forward Mark Olver (head) and forward Brandon Yip (arm) on injured reserve to start the season.
Stat Pack: The Wings have amassed at least 100 points in the standings in the last 11 consecutive seasons, an NHL record.
Puck Drop: Forsberg's jersey retirement ceremony will begin at 5:45 p.m. Mountain Time. Doors to the Pepsi Center will open at 4:30 p.m. The jersey retirement ceremony will be carried live on the Altitude Sports & Entertainment Network. The one-hour broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m.
All of the Avalanche players will wear No. 21 jerseys during warm-ups. The jerseys will be signed by each player and Forsberg and auctioned off online at auctions.nhl.com. The auction runs from Oct. 8-21 and benefits Kroenke Sports Charities.