The two teams have a combined seven players likely to suit up for the West team in Sunday’s NHL All-Star game in Atlanta.
They split two previous meetings, in October, with each winning at home. And both have fresh memories of last year’s epic Western Conference finals.
It has been more than three months since the Ducks and Detroit Red Wings tangled, but tonight’s game at the Honda Center figures to be another test for both in a burgeoning rivalry.
The Red Wings won, 3-2, in a shootout in Detroit on Oct. 3; the Ducks won, 6-3, in Anaheim on Oct. 15.
“I think they’re looking forward to it and I know we are,” Ducks defenseman Sean O’Donnell said Tuesday after practice. “I think it’s only human nature to look forward to those kinds of games. You circle those. It should be a fun one.”
Everyone is chasing the Red Wings, who have a league-best 76 points despite losing veteran free agents Mathieu Schneider and Todd Bertuzzi to Anaheim in the off-season.
Forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, along with defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, a five-time Norris Trophy winner, are all having stellar seasons and were voted onto the All-Star team as starters, though Zetterberg will sit out tonight’s game and Sunday’s showcase because of a sore back.
Goalie Chris Osgood, who has a 19-3-2 record and 1.95 goals-against average, was selected as a reserve even though he splits playing time with Dominik Hasek.
Since Nov. 24, the Red Wings have gone 20-4-2. “If you’re not ready, they can embarrass you in a hurry,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.
The Ducks have gone 12-3-2 to jump back into the Pacific Division race since Scott Niedermayer returned after flirting with retirement.
Niedermayer’s abbreviated season didn’t keep the NHL from naming him to the West roster as an injury replacement along with winger Corey Perry, giving the Ducks a league-high four representatives; Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Pronger are the others.
Niedermayer, who has two goals and 11 points in 17 games, said he was surprised when he got a call from General Manager Brian Burke late Monday night about the possibility.
“I guess I don’t have many good arguments to get a weekend off,” said the defenseman, who presumably was named because Dallas’ Sergei Zubov is injured. “But I guess when you’ve been around a while, it counts for something too. I’m looking forward to it.”
Perry’s 26 goals made him an obvious choice to replace injured Colorado forward Paul Stastny. The 22-year-old right wing called it an honor to be named an All-Star for the first time.
On whether he felt slighted when the reserves were named, Perry said, “You just take that and strive to work harder. You just do the best you can and leave it out there on the ice.”
vs. Detroit, 7, FSN West
Site -- Honda Center.
Radio -- 830.
Records -- Ducks 27-18-6; Red Wings 36-10-4.
Record vs. Red Wings -- 1-0-1.
Update -- Forward Brandon Bochenski left practice early as he needed stitches to close a preexisting gash above his eyebrow after getting hurt in a drill. “He had stitches there before and for some reason, I don’t know how, but he got bumped,” Carlyle said. “It was an ugly one. It ripped the whole thing back open.”
Tickets -- (877) 945-3946.