Let's take a quick look at the news and some notes surrounding the Wings game in Columbus tonight:
- After starting off blazing hot, Columbus has tumbled to the cellar of the Central Division. The Jackets have lost 12 of their last 13 outings and are struggling to find consistency. The Wings have won 9 of the last 12 against the Jackets (including playoffs). Hopefully it will be 10 of the last 13 after tonight. As you probably know, the most recent of these wins was a 2-1 win with a Todd Bertuzzi special.
- Ruh-roh for Ville Leino. Mattias Ritola was called up from Grand Rapids yesterday and is expected to fill Ville's roster spot tonight. Babcock is apparently more concerned with his lack of competitiveness, not lack of scoring. Leino has struggled (and that's saying it nicely) to do much this season and the honeymoon is over for Babcock's patience.
- Todd Bertuzzi is second on the team in goals. Say what? Bert's 12 put him one behind Holmstrom for the team lead and who knows when he'll turn in another two goal night. On the sad end of the spectrum, Kris Newbury has as many goals as Nick Lidstrom...what's going on there? Well, at least he's a team leading +8.
- Jimmy Howard will start in net again tonight. With the number of starts he's getting, I think it's clear who is the new starter in Motown. Oh, by the way: Jimmy is top 10 in the league in GAA. Sure, he doesn't have as many games played as Ryan Miller, Ilya Bryzgalov or Martin Brodeur but he still has a solid 2.33 in 22 games played.
- How will Valtteri Filppula play tonight? I unfortunately missed the first game back for him but did see him making some plays in the highlights. Can he get back to his status as the most under appreciated player on the team by providing great scoring chances every night to the bigger stars while winning the majority of his faceoffs? Let's hope.
- Nashville's 3 straight losses (including a 5-4 loss to Chicago last night) keeps the Wings afloat in the chase for second place in the division. A win tonight would help the Wings gain some more ground as they sit only 4 points back of Nashville (or SMASHVILLE if you wish) for 2nd place.
- Tonight's game will be on Versus! So get your earplugs ready unless D-MC is on the intermission show.
- Predicted scorers: Filppula, Draper, Holmstrom, or Bertuzzi (why the heck not?)
Check back later for line-ups, the game thread, and anything else that comes up.
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