No Gordon Bombay, knucklepucks, or flying V's in tonight's game unfortunately. I still miss the days they were the Mighty Ducks instead of just the Ducks. At least the times Detroit lost to them, I could imagine Emilio Estevez arguing with the Iceland coach--which, by the way, when was the last time Iceland was relevant in the Olympics?--instead of Chris Pronger slamming Tomas Holmstrom's head into the glass. But anyway, getting back to tonight's game, this will be a relatively short post since these guys met not too long ago.
I've said it before but I'll say it again, Darren Helm's line is scary. Helmer played great in the last game and was all over the ice with Patrick Eaves and Kris Draper close behind at all times. When all of the injured forwards return from injury, that is the one line I expect to stay the same because of the incredible success they've had. I have a feeling Helm will have a healthy contract extension from Detroit waiting at the end of this season and he's shown why he deserves it.
Detroit won its last game out, a 4-1 win over the
Hamilton Blackberries Phoenix Coyotes. Two of the goals came off of Nicklas Lidstrom shots deflected by Tomas Holmstrom and Jimmy Howard had a near perfect night; only beaten once and on a goal that was nearly impossible for him to do anything about.
Last time these two met, Todd Bertuzzi (of all people) had a two goal night to put the Wings over the Ducks 3-2 in overtime. Bertuzzi netted one off of Giguere in the third and then roofed a shot in overtime from very close range for a win.
- Anaheim was thrashed last time out by the Blackhawks by a score of 5-2. Chicago scored 3 third period goals in the win before letting up two late-game goals to the Ducks. Anaheim Calling is your SBNation source for news relating to the Ducks.
- Right now, these Ducks aren't the same ones as the Wings saw last year in the playoffs. Simply put the difference is Chris Pronger. As much as I, and 90% of fans, hate him, he is a great defender and knows how to knock teams off their game. The Ducks just don't have that same style in their play this year and its showing in the standings.
Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight. Sixth straight start for Jimmah, and why not? He's proving he can keep this watered-down Wings team in the game night in and night out.
Henrik Zetterberg has apparently talked a bit about returning tonight but in all reality, it will be Thursday. And it should be Thursday, no reason to rush him in again against a very physical team.
After the jump, we'll look at the major matchups and storylines for the game plus the tentative lines.
Along the same lines of Henrik Zetterberg returning, Dan Cleary also expects to be back during this road trip and hopes for a Thursday return against the Kings.
Brad May is expected to miss the game again tonight from whatever injury he sustained. Leino has actually played fairly well on the fourth line in his absence and I expect him to keep working hard, especially if he wants to keep his spot starting within the next few weeks.
Mattias Ritola needs to have Riiiiiii-to-laaaaaaaaa! played if he scores. Which he may actually be getting close to. He's taking some good shots each night and has been helped by Valtteri Filppula's passing.
How the Wings can win: Simply put keep the puck down in the Anaheim end. Anaheim has limited fire power on offense and a defense that isn't what it used to be. Keep the puck in that end, force them to take penalties and put shots on net often. Puck possession is also crucial as Datsyuk, Filppula, and Helm are all great face-off takers and will be up against a team that is fairly bad in that department. Win the draws your supposed to and the rest will follow.
Key matchup to watch when the Red Wings are on the attack: The line of Todd Bertuzzi-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom has been dynamic and I think they could have continued success again tonight. The best part about Homer and Bert being paired with Pavel is that Pavel gets the space he needs to weave magic because their two big bodies are making it for him. Look for them to get down low and clear a path to the net for Pavel.
Key matchup to watch when the Ducks are on the attack: Ryan Getzlaf. That's all I need to say. I despise the man. Not for what he does on offense, that I admire, but for how he plays the game after the whistles. In my book, there is no bigger ass in the NHL than he. But when he's not busy being an ass, he is a great playmaker that has a great shot and knows how to put points on the board.
Lines (from Khan of Mlive.com):
Enjoy the game, folks. I wish I could watch it and join in in the game thread but I am out of town and away from any source to do so.