Morning Skate: Kings/Wings

Continuing with god-awful 3rd jerseys...

Ah, the rhyming team name game. It's back and should be a tight one between the two teams. LA has turned around its team since last year for the better while Detroit has plummeted.

  • ZETTERBERG AND CLEARY ARE BACK! Finally, finally, finally. Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary will return to the line-up tonight. After the jump I'll post the predicted lines but here's what this means in terms of health: the Wings are now only without Johan Franzen and that Jason Williams guy on the list of forwards. There should be little excuse for lack of scoring now and hopefully excuses won't need to be made.
  • Say good-bye (for now) to Mattias Ritola (Riiiiiiii-to-laaaaaaaa) as he's been sent back down to the Griffins. Although Ritola had no points in his stay, he provided some great energy to the second and fourth lines each night he was in the line-up. I don't think this is the last we will see of Mattias.
  • Jimmy Howard is starting again (7th straight ) for Detroit and here's what Uncle Mike had to say on the whole deal:
    "I just think Howie played good in Anaheim (4-1 loss Tuesday). The bottom line, you're saying to yourself, 'We need to win tomorrow's game. What gives you the best opportunity to win?'" To me, this says that Howard's the new star in net because he's being trusted with the must win situations.
  • Yahoo! Sports will have a video stream of the game tonight. So watch it there (or if you have the regular tv station that works) and comment here!
  • The Kings are a big, powerful obstacle in the way of the Detroit return to the playoff hunt. Currently, the Kings sit at a healthy 53 points in the Pacific Division. They've won their last 3 games (including a 6-2 drubbing of the Sharks) and
  • Jonathan Quick--recently selected to team USA's roster--has a pretty good 2.56 GAA and is a good young netminder...much like the guy between the pipes in Motown. Quick will likely get the start in net tonight and has the potential to shut down the Wings.
  • Other scores around the league: Buffalo 5-Tampa Bay 2, Minny 4-Calgary 1, NYI 3-Colorado 2. For more coverage of the NHL, check out SB Nation Hockey.
  • If you're into college football, there's that National Championship thingy tonight. If you want to join the game thread for either Alabama or Texas, before joining us of course, the respective SB Nation affiliates are here: Roll Bama Roll and Burnt Orange Nation. This is a big time game from two powerhouses of college football and I for one will definitely be watching it before the Wings game.
  • Battle of California is your source for any Kings related odds & ends...I just can't help thinking of The Governator. Also, the Royal Half is a Kings specific blog outside of the SBNation network.

    Check after the jump for the lines for tonight as well as more "insight" and stuff like that.
  • It will be interesting to see how this team plays when the fourth liners aren't expected to be snipers. I, for one, think that this means EVERYONE is going to have a shoot first mentality tonight. This could come back to haunt the Wings but why not put puck on net? Good things happen when you do it--deflections and juicy rebounds namely--so put the puck on Quick and force defense instead of allowing the defense to come to you.
  • Imagine if Brad Stuart had Niklas Kronwall back on his line instead of Brett Lebda. Let it settle in, savor it. Ah, in a few weeks we'll know what that feels like. Lebda has gotten better I'll admit playing alongside Stewie but he still has a handful of boneheaded plays every night. If I had to give a midseason Norris Trophy to a Wing, it would be Brad Stuart. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
  • The Euro Twin and Homer String Band Trio should have some success tonight. Homer will automatically draw Rob Scuderi most likely who will spend all night trying to break Holmstrom out of the concrete mold his feet are set in in front of the crease. This should open up some opportunities for the Euro Twins to manuever. Passing is a key to tonight's game because of the speed of the Kings defenders like Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson...wait, not that Jack Johnson...or that one
  • Face-offs will be key tonight. The Kings are in the bottom half of the league in that department while the Wings are in top 5. Datsyuk, Filppula, Helm, and Abdelkader will need to win the majority of the face-offs tonight (especially in the offensive zone) in order to help this team win. As you know, puck possession starts in the dot and the Wings need to play that style of game against a team that gives up the second fewest shots per game.
  • As said above, they give up the second fewest shtos per game, but they also rank in the bottom 10 in shots for. This is gonna be a tight game offensively for both teams I think and it's the style that they both have to play. Young goalies with a lot of turnover within their line-up from last year has put the stress on defense for both sides.
  • Kings out of tonight's game: Justin Williams (broken leg...is that a "Williams" thing?), Jarrett Stoll (lower body), Lotkinov and Jones.
  • Key matchup to watch when Detroit is on the attack: Pretty clear here, watch to see how Henrik Zetterberg fares tonight in his return. Watch Dan Cleary too but Zetterberg is the scorer of the two and it will be interesting to see if there's any fall-off in his game after the injury.
  • Key matchup to watch when LA is on the attack: This one's pretty clear too, watch Anze Kopitar. The guy is a beast and one of the most underrated forwards in the league. He leads LA with 42 points (17 G, 25 A) but also has guys like Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown to help the offense when he lags behind.
  • Expected forward lines (via Khan of MLive.com):

    Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
    Cleary-Filppula-Bertuzzi
    Draper-Helm-Eaves
    May/Maltby-Abdelkader-Miller/Leino

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