What to watch for in Avs-Wings tilt

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
12:58
PM ET
DETROIT -- The Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings hook up Tuesday night in what was once one of the NHL's top rivalries. Detroit hasn't gone away, but Colorado hit a rough patch, defusing the clash for a while. Perhaps Colorado's young guns can get this thing back on track.

Here are five things to look for the first game of the season between the two clubs:

1. The Red Wings will be without a key contributor in top-four blueliner and Team USA Olympian Brian Rafalski. The veteran blueliner had a knee scoped Tuesday and it was unclear at the morning skate how long Detroit would be without him.

"We don't think very long, but until they get in there, who knows," Detroit coach Mike Babcock told assembled media. "He had a little pain, it hadn't reacted the way it had in the past. Part of it is that he had the back surgery this summer, and when you don't do the same training, the quads probably aren't as strong. He hurt the knee at 18, but suddenly more wear and tear. ... They decided they needed to have a quick look and clean up whatever they need to clean up there."

2. Doug Janik was recalled to replace Rafalski in the lineup. The veteran journeyman will start the game on the second defense pairing with Niklas Kronwall. Babcock wanted to keep his third pairing -- Jakub Kindl and Ruslan Salei -- intact.

"We think Janik is a stable D-man who can play in the NHL," the Wings coach said. "He played real well for us last year. He comes up and he knows what we're doing. He fits right in. He's a good penalty killer. He's safe."

Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart will make up the top pairing.

3. Backup Peter Budaj will be in net for Colorado since starter Craig Anderson will get the night off after a hard-fought, 4-2 loss Monday night in Philadelphia. Budaj started only 11 games last season. The Wings don't get to face a lot of backups here at Joe Louis Arena.

4. The young Avs split the season series with the veteran Wings last season and left an impression.

"I watched them again last night, I think they're impressive to watch," Babcock said. "They've got these real good kids and their kids are playing real well. They're on the puck and they make good plays. Everyone talks about [Matt] Duchene, obviously. But you look at [T.J.] Galiardi and [Ryan] O'Reilly, those guys look like real good players to me."

5. Can the rivalry return? In the mid-to-late 1990s, there wasn't a better one in the game. Brawl-filled games with two teams that took turns winning Cups. Lidstrom smiled when he was asked for his favorite memory.

"Probably Roy and Ozzie, the fight they had," Lidstrom said today after the team's morning skate. "There's many games when Shanny would collide with Roy, as well. McCarty and Lemieux is another one. There's some memories there."

For the rivalry to return, the two teams need to face off in a playoffs series again.

"If you see them in the playoffs and play them every other day, that rivalry builds up really quick," Lidstrom said.

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