Finally, the All-Star break is over and the Red Wings are back on the ice tonight. The Wings have left the sweltering beach that is the state of Michigan for the ice in Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. The Wings were hoping to have Pavel Datsyuk back in the line-up tonight but he's still not quite ready. However, it looks like Dan Cleary will return to the line-up tonight.
Last night, the Senators dropped a 2-1 decision to the Devils, the Red Wings' most recent opponent. In their last 15 games, the Senators are 2-9-4 and have allowed 5+ goals on 4 separate occasions (including a 7 spot and two 6-ers). To say the ship is sinking for the Sens is a pretty fair statement at this point and the retooling will likely begin sooner rather than later.
"I'm open for business, yes, you can get that word out if you want," Sens GM Bryan Murray told us, his sense of humor still intact.
"We now know where we are," Murray added in a serious tone, referring to the team's 13th-place standing in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break, 15 points out of the last playoff spot. "As disappointed as we may be, we have to do something to rectify it."
This statement from Murray to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun is pretty indicative of the team's position at this point in the year and when that thought is floating around the locker room, it can't mean good things.
Preview and prediction form after the jump...
- Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight for the Red Wings. The added time off for the All-Star break should have given Jimmy some much needed rest as well as allowing any remaining soreness to dissipate. The Senators are near the bottom of the barrel in goals per game (2.14--29th) and shots per game (28.8--24th) so Howard can't afford to have a stinker against a team that's struggling so much on offense.
- *Added thanks to JJ*: Happy birthday to resident murderer and Petrella's favorite player, Todd Bertuzzi! Bert turns 36 today. Bert's been a pretty good asset to the team this year and although his offensive numbers are quite what we'd hope for, he's doing a great job defensively as well as scaring the hell out of any opposing players.
- Daniel Alfredsson leads the Senators in goals with 14 and Erik Karlsson, the lone Ottawa All-Star selection, leads them in assists with 21. The two each have 29 points on the season.
- The Senators have ONE player that is a plus, David Hale with a +3. Chris Phillips is a -25 and Sergei Gonchar is a -17. As we all know, +/- isn't everything but...damn.
- Ottawa turns the puck over quite a bit (7th most in the NHL) so this makes you wish even more that Pavel Datsyuk was back.
- Something to watch tonight will be how Dan Cleary plays in his return. Cleary was on pace for a stellar season but will he pick up where he left off? That's not to say that if he doesn't score tonight it's all gloom and doom but rather how he plays in the offensive zone overall.
- For Discussion: going back to the part about the Sens trading players away, which player would you most like to see on the Wings? With the exception of Alfredsson (who they'll never move) and Sergei Gonchar (who they just got).
- Score Prediction: 4-2 Detroit. This isn't a must win but it's a holy-crap-we-really-can't-lose-to-the-Senators type game
- Player of the Game Prediction: Since I'm always wrong, I'll go with Jan Mursak.
- Around the league: Jordan Staal cheapshotted Brandon Prust but the Penguins beat the Rangers in a shootout, the Blackhawks scored 4 unanswered goals to beat the Blue Jackets 7-4, the Flames beat the Preds in a shootout, Vancouver moved to 1st place overall after beating the Stars 4-1 and the Sharks topped the Coyotes 5-3