Veterans lead the way for Ducks, Wings


ANAHEIM -- There’s a load of experience on both the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings heading into Sunday night’s Game 7, with veterans Henrik Zetterberg, Teemu Selanne, Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Getzlaf able to lean on plenty of big-game experience. So the early edge might come in which team’s young players are able to shake off the nerves the quickest. Anaheim has gotten strong contributions from rookies Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri, while Detroit’s youth led by Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Brendan Smith have all had their moments as well.

It’s safe to say each one is eager to get this game started.

"It’s going to be exciting," Palmieri said Sunday morning. "I think everyone’s really amped up about it. We’re definitely excited to be out there and on home ice."

Rather than let nerves get in the way, Etem said he plans on embracing the opportunity a Game 7 provides.

"It’s the biggest game of my life," he said. "I’m excited. I can’t wait to hear the fans here again."

The one advantage the Red Wings youth might possess is already having an elimination game under their belts in this series. They also had to play intense games down the stretch just to make the playoffs.

They’ve been preparing for this moment for several weeks now.

"We’ve been in this situation many times this year," said Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. "It’s no different than the games we had before. Just go out and take charge and enjoy the atmosphere."

Eaves in, Emmerton out

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock confirmed that Patrick Eaves will return to the lineup in place of Cory Emmerton, who has played in every game this series. Babcock said he’s looking for more of a physical presence in that role. Eaves is second among Red Wings players with 12 hits in this series.

The complication in pulling Emmerton is it leaves Babcock without a center on his fourth line, and the Ducks' fourth-line center David Steckel is one of the best faceoff guys in the league.

"We’re three good hockey players. I don’t think it really matters if we’re wingers," Eaves said. "At some point we’ve all played center in our career. We’re all good hockey players and we can help each other out. It’s about communication. We’ll be fine out there."