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NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings begin Eastern Conference life against Sabres

Oct 2, 2013, 9:13 AM EDT

Pavel Datsyuk Getty Images

It’s Rivalry Night on NBCSN and the Detroit Red Wings will spark new battles in the Eastern Conference and will start tonight at home against the Buffalo Sabres at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Detroit Red Wings have been wanting to be part of the Eastern Conference for some time and tonight they’ll begin finding out if it was worth the trouble finding out if the grass truly is greener on the other side of the fence. Dealing with the Buffalo Sabres provides a curious first test.

Buffalo enters the game with many fans and prognosticators not giving them much of a chance this season. They’ll also start the year as one of the youngest teams in the league. 2013 first-round pick Rasmus Ristolainen made the team and will get the job of trying to find a way to wrangle Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in his first game. Good luck, kid.

Detroit’s cast of characters is almost exactly the same group as it was last year. One big difference is the addition of Daniel Alfredsson. While he’s sure to spark some heat when they play Ottawa, Alfie has killed the Sabres in his career scoring 42 of his 426 career goals against them, the most against any one team. Don’t think Sabres fans aren’t fully aware of that.

Related: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $4,000 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Wednesday). It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $600. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

Where things get most interesting is the battle in goal. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard showed last season he’s capable of being the kind of goalie the Red Wings need to be successful. His play against Anaheim and Chicago in the playoffs helped reassure fans things are just fine between the pipes.

Buffalo’s Ryan Miller has a bit of a different look at things this season. While he’s still the “man” for the Sabres, his future with the team is going to be a source of speculation all year as he’s in the final year of his contract and will be focus of rumors all season. He can help keep that talk going by playing out of his mind starting tonight against the high-powered Wings.

  1. hockey412 - Oct 2, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Hopefully for Datsyuk, John Scott will sit this one out. That would probably be the most logical target for him.

    • bullwinkle88 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      Stupid comment.

      • hockey412 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        No offense to Buffalo fans, just the thought of someone like Scott going repeat offender and trying to beat down another real hockey player like Datsyuk just makes me a little sick. Hopefully they won’t share the same ice. For shame.

      • bigblackzaranek - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        A repeat offender? A player needs a suspension first before they can be considered a repeat offender. Now next time ol’ Bunyan 81 goes for his antics he WILL be considered a repeat offender, and will get more than a few exhibitions.

    • richc111 - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      Give me a break. Scott was on the ice before Kessel came on and let face it any of the Det. “stars” are not going to double hand hack at the back of a players legs when another guy has him tired up. Kessel reminded me of that guy who would only take shots at someone in a fight when they aren’t looking or is already beat. Man up Kessel just skate away next time or carry a purse with you instead of a stick

      • hockey412 - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:19 PM

        I’m not even sure that makes sense. “Manning up” shouldn’t mean Kessel having to fight Scott just because Scott wants to fight, should it? Because what you are saying is that, if Scott so chooses, Datsyuk should have to “man up” and fight Scott also…right? Not that I care about either team, and certainly I don’t think Kessel had any right to ‘poke the bear’ after Scott’s ridiculous behavior, I just wonder where the line is drawn from those that seem to skip over the whole ‘Scott tried to fight Kessel’ point, and instead point out that Kessel whacked him with his stick (I’d have done the same, except to the face).

  2. pistolpete31 - Oct 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    There is no rivalry though

    • westinpat - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Not yet.

    • tmoore4075 - Oct 2, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      This happened last year too. The Wild and Hawks were put on rivalry night. Never met in the playoffs, didn’t play in the same division. If you can’t make every Wednesday night actual rivalry night, which I’m sure is tough because NBCSN doesn’t do the schedule, don’t call it that.

  3. buddysguys - Oct 2, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    we’re aware……

  4. bullwinkle88 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Not only is this not a rivalry, I don’t think it ever will be.

    The Sabres are arch rivals of teams such as Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia because there are good reasons for it.

    Toronto because they’re only 100 miles away and Punch Imlach came from there to be their first coach, plus the Leafs actively worked against a Buffalo franchise in 1967.

    Boston because of the brawls that occurred during the Big Bad Bruin days…I still remember Schoenfeld taking on Cashman, Vadnais, and Orr – one each period.

    Philadelphia because of their dirty play, the fog games, and how they won the Cup in our very first Stanley Cup appearance.

    Detroit? They’re a very good team, but it takes a lot more than that to make a rivalry.

  5. polegojim - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:35 PM


    BTW… treat EVERY game as a rivalry… because you actually have a ‘rival’ on the ice, right???

    I’m just sayin…..

  6. joey4id - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Exciting to see the RW in the EC. Looking forward to seeing them on the TV in the ETZ. I’m sure they’ll enjoy less travelling as the season progresses.

  7. pxland - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Don’t you need to try to put a good product on the ice before you can be considered anyone’s rival. Sorry Buffalo.

  8. snipedanglecelly13 - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Go redwings!

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1841)
  2. P. Kane (1366)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1200)
  4. S. Matthias (1159)
  5. M. Giordano (1058)