Detroit took two big wins to open the 2010-2011 season. Tonight, they'll look to keep that mojo going against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are 1-1-0 with a opening night win over the Chicago Blackhawks and then a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia last night. In preparation for tonight's game/this post, I watched both of those games and there are quite a few holes in the Colorado gameplan.
- Jimmy Howard will start his second game of the season. In the season opener, Howard shut out the Ducks 4-0 although he didn't have to make that many big saves. Howard might be tested a little more tonight with the Avalanche but the rest he had should do him good for tonight's game.
- This will be Ruslan Salei's first game against his former team (the Avalanche) since coming over to Detroit. So far, Salei has been a good addition for the Red Wings and has provided some solid play at both ends of the ice. It should be interesting to see how he plays tonight against his former team, considering he practiced with them last year.
Brian Rafalski is going to be out of tonight's line-up it seems and the Wings have called up defenseman Doug Janik. To clear that roster spot, Kris Draper has been named as a short-term IR player because of the problem he has had with his groin. With Rafalski out and Janik in,
expect Jakub Kindl to play on the top line with Nicklas Lidstrom while Janik joinsJanik will play with Kronwall and Kindl with Salei on the third pairing.
- Colorado had a lot of trouble dealing with an aggressive forecheck against Philadelphia. It seemed like the pressure was causing the puckcarriers to cough it up quite a bit in their own end. This could be a field day for the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula. The Avs definitely had some trouble getting the puck out of their defensive zone cleanly and it's something Detroit should look to exploit.
- That being said, once they do get the puck up ice they are pretty quick gaining the offensive zone and pass well in the offensive zone. This team has a lot of offensive talent with Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Brandon Yip Chris Stewart and Ryan O'Reilly but it's getting them the space to work that might be their problem as Detroit showed pretty good skill at shutting down Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and
Their penalty kill system is another thing Detroit can exploit. The Avs play with a diamond formation (one man in front of the net, one on each side of him and then another out at the point) and the three that play away from the goalie play very aggressively. This allows them to break up the play but it also leaves them vulnerable to passes to players streaking to the slot. Look for Datsyuk or Zetterberg to try and make these passes
The rest of the preview and key matchups are after the jump.
Mile High Hockey is your SB Nation source for Avalanche coverage.
Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Holmstrom
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary
Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves
Nicklas Lidstrom-Brad Stuart
Doug Janik-Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl-Ruslan Salei