Finally game day is here after a long wait since Sunday's win over the Rangers. Here's a few things to look at heading into tonight's game:
Ville Leino will sit again tonight with Brad May/Drew Miller/Patrick Eaves filling his spot. I have absolutely no objection to this. When you are unable to produce points you have to be able to provide something else to keep your spot in the lineup and Leino simply isn't cutting it. He isn't producing many points and is sometimes a liability defensively. May, Miller, or Eaves all have the ability to play a tough physical game or provide a lot of energy through speed but Leino is often the one receiving hits and lagging behind.
- Justin Abdelkader, the resident Napoleon Dynamite look-a-like, will play some shifts centering the second line tonight. Alongside him will be Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are with Tomas Holmstrom again tonight. Abdelkader has earned this spot I think. It would be stupid to break up Draper-Helm-Eaves and Babcock knows that. Abdelkader provides a lot of hits to an already physical line and has a lot skills (hence Napoleon Dynamite reference again) that don't show up in the stat column.
Jimmy Howard's going to start in net again tonight. I like this matchup because of how he has been playing over the past few games. Sure, he hit a speed bump against Edmonton but he's 7-3-0 in his last 10 with one of the losses being the Brad May non-goal against Dallas game and the other being the brilliant night at the other end by Ondrej Pavelec. Howard should have some continued success against a St. Louis team that is averaging 2.39 goals/game, second worst in the league.
- Matchup of the night: Pavel Datsyuk vs. St. Louis defense. This defense is tough and hits a lot but we all know the magic Pavel can work at any given moment. I look for him to continue to crawl out of his slump whether its in the goal column or dishing out his exceptional passes.
Brad May fight predictor: 2nd period, Cam Janssen.
- Predicted scorer(s): Dan Cleary, Nick Lidstrom (FINALLY), and Tomas Holmstrom