Morning Skate: Out of the way, you

"Hey Ryan, did you know that Bruce Willis is actually dead the whole time in The Sixth Sense?"

The Red Wings head to Colorado to face the Avalanche tonight in what is the final regular season contest between the two teams. Detroit has won two of the first three meetings between the two teams and can take the series tonight at the Pepsi Aquatic Sports Center. Detroit is coming off a huge shootout win in Vancouver, a game in which Jimmy Howard was spectacular and Jiri Hudler's slapshot in the shootout secured the second point.

The Avalanche have dropped two straight, 2-0 to Phoenix and 4-3 in OT to the Islanders, and have gone 3-5-2 in their last 10 (the 4-3 Detroit win in that list).The Red Wings, on the other hand, have won 3 in a row and are 7-2-1 in their last 10. But neither team's previous 10 matter tonight as these old rivals drop the puck for another game.

Mile High Hockey for Colorado Avalanche coverage.

Preview and form after the jump.

  • With Chris Osgood still sidelined with the groin injury, Jimmy Howard will start in net again for the Red Wings tonight. Howard had a superb night in net against the Canucks and hopefully he builds off of that and does the same tonight against the Avalanche.
  • Matt Duchene leads the Avalanche in goals (16)  and points (40). Duchene had a great rookie campaign and is following that up pretty well so far this season.
  • The Red Wings are 2nd in the NHL in goals for per game with 3.40 and 3rd in shots for per game at 33.2. I really like how this team is coming together offensively, even with Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary out of the line-up. Someone new seems to step up each night, whether it's Patrick Eaves, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Henrik Zetterberg or Jiri f-ing Hudler, the scoring depth this team has is hard to match.
  • Who will Cody McLeod try to fight tonight? As long as it's not Doug Janik (Jug Dannik)...that was embarassing.
  • What are everyone's impressions with Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar so far? Mursak has shown some incredible speed and made a few heads up plays and, overall, hasn't really screwed up. I think he's got good potential and could be a good asset down the road. Tatar has been a little more complicated for me to evaluate, he's shown some great awareness in both the offensive and defensive zones (stick lift right before a shot) but has also made a few bad turnovers. I think if he adjusts his tempo to the proper level, he'll be a solid contributor in the future.
  • Score Prediction: 4-1 Detroit. I think the Wings (and Jimmy Howard) will still be fired up from the last game and come out strong.
  • Player of the Game Prediction: Henrik Zetterberg--He was really feeling it in the Vancouver game and hopefully he'll rise to the challenge again tonight 
  • Around the League: Holy hell, the Devils won a game?! And against the Lightning you say? 6-3 you say? To shreds you say? Oops, transitioned to Futurama. The Hawks downed the mighty Islanders 5-0 (yes, I realize they beat us but let me have my jokes, dammit!)

For discussion: Vengeance was served as Tom Kostopoulos of the Flames was suspended six games for his hit on Brad Stuart. Coming out of this whole thing (other than Stuart's jaw being wired shut) are two questionable quotes. First, is Colin Campbell's (via Ansar Khan of mlive.com, my emphasis added):

The fact that Brad Stuart was not in possession of the puck when the blow was delivered and the serious nature of the player's injury were also considered in my decision.

So...the NHL is using severity of the injury to dictate punishment? Part of me thinks this is dumb because it makes you think the punishment would be less if Stuart wasn't injured but the other part thinks this might be the way to do things. The first thing I wanted when Georges Laraque injured Kronwall last year was for Laraque to sit out as many games as Kronwall. Not that it would have mattered that much for the Canadiens but you get my drift.

The second quote came from new Flames' GM Jay Feaster (also via the Khan, my emphasis added):

"We strongly disagree, not only with the length of the suspension, but also with the fact that Tom was suspended"

So in Feaster's NHL, players can take free runs and hit in the head. Cool.

Talk amongst yourselves, I gave you a topic.

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