Morning Skate: Steel City Showdown

This will be fun.

I don't know about you, but I do not like the Penguins. I may no hate them as much as I dislike the Ducks or Avalanche and maybe the Blackhawks, but, man, do I dislike them. I don't forget about 2009. That feeling comes back every time we play these guys and until we can meet them again for the Stanley Cup I will probably always feel this way. I want to beat them and I want to kick their asses.

For as much as we all hate Sidney Crosby. It really is a shame he's out once again with concussion-like symptoms. He might be a whiny-little bitch, but the game is better with him. Everyone needs a villain. The NBA has LeBron James. The NFL has Ndamakong Suh or Tom Brady or Brett Favre or Tim Tebow (depending who your team is). MLB has the Yankees. Too many, we, the Red Wings, are the villain, Well, to us, Crosby is it. We love to hate him. We love to make fun of him. We love to beat him.

For tonight though, we will have to accept that we won't get to see Zetterberg and Lidstrom shut Cindy down for the umpteenth time. We won't get to see Rosby whine to the refs and cry when he doesn't get his way. We won't get to see Jimmy complete own The Kid and face-wash him into oblivion. Instead, we'll just have to shut down James Neal and Evgeni Malkin and laugh at Marc-Andre Fleury's stupid nickname. It's the only time these two teams meet all season. Let's get bragging rights before we see them again in the Stanley Cup Final.

PensBurgh is your SBNation Penguins' blog.

Puck drop is a little after 7p ET.

The Expected Lineup

Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Danny Cleary -- Darren Helm -- Chris Conner

Drew Miller -- Justin Abdelkader -- Tomas Holmstrom

* * *

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Jonathan Ericsson

Brad Stuart -- Jakub Kindl

* * *

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Mike Commodore and Cory Emmerton

Injuries: Jan Mursak (ankle) and Patrick Eaves (jaw)

RED WINGS HOW THEY MATCH UP PENGUINS
18-9-1 Record 17-9-4
3.14 (5th) Goals Per Game 3.03 (T-8th)
2.21 (5th) Goals Against Per Game 2.43 (10th)
19.5% (7th) Power Play % 17.9% (T-12th)
80.6% (22nd) Penalty Kill % 88.2% (3rd)
Johan Franzen (13 goals) Goal Leader James Neal (17 goals)
Johan Franzen & Pavel Datsyuk (28 points) Points Leader Evgeni Malkin & James Neal (28 points)

  • The Red Wings are 61-58-16-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Penguins. Add the overtime losses to the regulation losses and the Wings are at .500. A win tonight would give the Wings an outright winning record.
  • The Pens swept both games against the Wings last season.
  • The Wings are currently on a two game winning streak. They have winning streaks of five, four, and seven so far this season and have yet to alternate wins-and-losses.
  • Pittsburgh is 1-1 since losing Crosby to concussion-like symptoms. They're 3-3-0 in the month of December.
  • Detroit is now top five in both goals for and against. They are also second in five-on-five goals for/against ratio (1.66). Boston is the only other team that is top five in both categories and first in five-on-five goals for/against ratio.
  • Key to the game could come down to specialty teams. The Pens PK is one of the best in the league while the Wings are struggling when down a man.
  • James Neal has three goals in his last two games. Evgeni Malkin has a goal and three assists in his last two games.
  • Datsyuk, Hudler, Zetterberg, and Filppula all have four points each in the last two games.
  • Penguins' defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is expected to miss tonight's game with concussion-like symptoms. Sadly, we won't get to see a Bertuzzi-Bortuzzo throwdown.

Prediction: Even without Crosby, the Pens are a very good team. They're well-balanced from top-to-bottom with good goaltending and good coaching. However, the Wings can say the same thing and they have all their big names going for them. It's going to be a close game. The Wings win 3-2 and Henrik Zetterberg is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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