Morning Skate: waited long enough?

Has this been an incredibly long few days off or what? It feels like the Wings last played a game in Winter of 19-dickity9, we had to say dickity because the Kaiser stole the word "20". I wore an onion on my belt, which was the style of the time. Okay...I'll stop with the Abe Simpson references. Down to biddness.

  • Jimmy Howard will start in net for the Red Wings tonight. This is Howard's second consecutive start and his fourth of the season. Howard was solid in the 2-1 OT win over Phoenix, stopping 25 of 26 shots faced. Howard will need to be solid again 
  • Wings fans attending are encouraged to wear pink tonight for Breast Cancer Awareness. There will be a bunch of activities on the concourse that will go to benefit the Liggett Breast Center in Grosse Point Woods, Michigan. Take the link jump to read about all the opportunities for fans wearing pink to support a great cause and win some cool stuff in the process. [Link is via Christy, your former Winging It In Motown overlord manager]
  • Kris Draper will have surgery today for a sports hernia. Drapes has been off the ice since training camp and has yet to feel good enough to play. He'll have the surgery and will likely miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Even when Draper is healthy, he may not crack the line-up if the fourth lines are rolling so it could be a while before #33 steps on the ice. 
  • Calgary last played on Tuesday and earned a 1-0 OT win over Nashville. So...thanks?
  • Johan Franzen is back in the line-up for tonight. Here's the question I have about Franzen: will he be cautious tonight or mad as hell? I think you're going to see the mad as hell, pissed off, determined to score and no one is going to stop him Franzen. He had that terrifying look in his eye after the Fistric hit, the one that screams this. I think you could see a couple of goals from Franzen tonight as well as some hits to take out the frustration that he's feeling
  • I wonder if the Blackhawks fans are giddy yet...Yeah, they are leading the league with 11 points but they've also played more games than anyone else. Here's some perspective: the Hawks have played exactly 3 more games than any team in the Central Division. 
  • Miikka Kiprusoff will likely start for the Flames in between the pipes. His GAA is at 2.19 through 5 starts (read: all of CGY's games). Hehe, Jimmy Howard has a 1.59 GAA. Expect the usual from Kipper (assuming he starts) that he'll make some ridiculous saves but might have some bad goals (we hope) allowed.
  • Matchsticks and Gasoline is your Calgary SB Nation site.

    Follow the jump for more
  • Calgary has a very good PK thus far (90.5%, 6th) and takes close to 13 minutes a game in penalties. The catch with those PIM/G is that they have four five minute majors in the five games and all four of those occurred on opening night against the Oilers. So, take away those 20 minutes in penalties and the Flames are averaging 8.8 a game--pretty disciplined.
  • Calgary's PP unit is okay, for now. Again, a lot of this stuff is skewed because of the small sample size of games played but the Flames are converting at 10.5% and are getting about 4 chances a game at the most. Last season, the Flames were near the bottom of the league at 16.0% (T-26th). I think the Flames might have a tough go of it against the Wings tonight with Detroit rockin' a 88.2% success in killing penalties
  • So with those two stats, don't expect much on special teams tonight unless one team really has a break through.
  • Has Doug Janik been decent in his three games so far? Sure, why not. He's averaging 11:14 of ice-time per game and has only been on the ice for 2 goals against so far. He's not great but he's not bad. And I guess that's all we can ask of him.
  • Although Todd Bertuzzi is doing a superb job this season, I think Valtteri Filppula is quietly the MVP of the offense so far. Fil has been on the ice for half of the goals scored, has a pair of goals and a pair of assists, is making very smart plays with the puck and has won 61.1% of his draws. Of course, it's good to have Fil AND Bert producing at such a high level.
  • Key match-up to watch when the Flames have the puck: Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Iggy has been the best player for the Flames over the years and there's no reason to not think he'll be on his game tonight. Sneaky player to watch: Brendan Morrison, 4 assists in his first 5 games.
  • Key match-up to watch when the Red Wings have the puck: I've picked it a lot this year but I'm going with it again--Franzen-Filppula-Bertuzzi. I think the interesting thing to watch is as I mentioned above with Franzen and I'm sure Filppula and Bertuzzi will like having him back on their line.
  • Expected Lines (via Khan):
    Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
    Franzen-Filppula-Bertuzzi
    Hudler-Modano-Cleary
    Miller-Helm-Eaves
    Lidstrom-Stuart
    Kronwall-Janik
    Kindl-Salei
    Howard
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