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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, October 2nd (All times Eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (0-0-0) at Colorado Avalanche (0-0-0), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - If 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon needs advice on how to handle opening night in Colorado, new head coach Patrick Roy certainly has some wisdom to lend the youngster.
MacKinnon will be in Roy's lineup on Wednesday night as the two make their Avalanche debuts in the opener against the Anaheim Ducks.
After missing out on the postseason for a third straight year, the Avalanche fired head coach Joe Sacco and replaced him with Roy, who won two of his four Stanley Cup titles with Colorado in 1996 and 2001.
Roy was part of the offseason overhaul that also saw former teammate Joe Sakic hired as executive vice president of hockey operations.
The 47-year-old Roy retired following the 2002-03 season and later became the general manager, coach and co-owner of his hometown Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2005. He led the club to the Memorial Cup title in his first season at the helm and will now try to succeed as a coach at the NHL level.
"I'm excited about the game, to be honest with you," said Roy. "It's the first game -- this is the date I would say that I put a circle around and I was looking forward to. I like the way the team has played in the preseason games. The guys have played really well. I just felt that we were getting better and better along the way, and I'm curious to see (Wednesday) how we're going to be as a team at the same time."
Sakic and Roy did inherit a club that owned the top overall pick in the draft for and the Avs spent that selection on MacKinnon to join the young core of captain Gabriel Landeskog and forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly.
Just 17 years of age at the time of his selection, MacKinnon had 32 goals and 75 points in 44 regular-season games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL last year. He added another seven goals and 13 points in four playoff games to help his club capture the Memorial Cup.
"It's going to be cool. I don't really know how I'm going to feel yet. Obviously there's going to be some butterflies," said MacKinnon, who added his family will be in attendance for his first three games.
"I'm really looking forward to it. Preseason was fun, but this is the real deal. I think as a team we're very confident going into the season."
Colorado, which will open the season without defenseman Ryan Wilson due to a knee injury, will also host Nashville on Friday before playing three straight on the road.
For the Ducks, they will play their first three games of the season away from home. Anaheim also will visit Minnesota and Winnipeg this weekend and will play 11 of its first 16 games this season away from the Honda Center.
A few veterans on the Ducks think that could be a good thing as long as the club wins.
"You get away from the hassle," said Anaheim forward Saku Koivu. "You can really focus on the first couple games. We spend two days in between the first and second games, get some time as a team, some bonding time. Obviously, if you can get some wins, it's a really good thing to start on the road. But obviously that is the one thing is that we have to make sure we come out with some points."
The Ducks open their 20th anniversary season coming off their second ever Pacific Division title and first since their Cup-winning 2006-07 season. However, they were bounced out in the first round of the 2013 playoffs by Detroit.
Anaheim didn't make a lot of offseason moves, but the one headline grabber was the trade of forward Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators for young winger Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Silfverberg will try to replace Ryan's 30-goal production and on Tuesday skated on a line with veteran Teemu Selanne and center Mathieu Perreault, who was acquired from the Washington Capitals in a trade on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Silfverberg had 10 goals and 19 points in 48 games as a rookie last year.
Selanne, meanwhile, will return for one final NHL season. He is the franchise's all-time leader in several categories, including goals (448), assists (513), points (961) and games played (902). At 43 years and 92 days, he is the NHL's oldest active player and ranks 11th all-time in goals with 675.
Selanne, who spent the 2003-04 season with Colorado, has 36 goals and 76 points in 67 career games versus the Avs.
The Ducks are slated to open the season a little banged up at the blue line. Both Sheldon Souray (right wrist surgery) and Luca Sbisa (sprained left ankle) are out, though defenseman Francois Beauchemin could play tonight despite reconstructive surgery in May on his right knee to repair a torn ligament.
Semyon Varlamov will start this game in net for the Avalanche, while Jonas Hiller is likely to get the call for the Ducks.
The Ducks won two of three versus the Avs a season ago, notching a 3-0 shutout in the lone meeting in Denver. Hiller's backup Viktor Fasth posted 31 saves to record his first career shutout.
10/02 10:45:43 ET