Morning Skate: The Final Countdown

And then there were two.

The regular season is coming to end this weekend with a back-to-back showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Red Wings are locked into a top 3 playoff seed and it's looking more likely each day that the team will finish in the 3rd seed.  The Blackhawks, on the other hand, still have to fight for their playoff lives.  Chicago currently sits in the 8th spot and could still be caught by the Dallas if the Stars align (see what I did there?).

I'm going to be brutally honest here for a moment, as much as I'd love to prevent the Blackhawks from making the playoffs and as much as I want to get that 2nd seed to have home ice in a series against the San Jose Sharks, the most important thing this weekend is simple: stay healthy.  Henrik Zetterberg is already out this weekend and will be day-to-day when the postseason begins.  This team doesn't want to add anyone else to the injured list.

Puck drop is at 7:30p ET on Fox Sports Detroit and VERSUS.

Second City Hockey is your SBNation Blackhawks blog.

More after the jump.

The Expected Lineup

Jiri Hudler -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Johan Franzen

Danny Cleary -- Justin Abdelkader -- Todd Bertuzzi

Mike Modano -- Valtteri Filppula -- Tomas Holmstrom

Drew Miller / Kris Draper -- Darren Helm -- Patrick Eaves

 

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Brad Stuart

Brian Rafalski -- Jonathan Ericsson

Ruslan Salei -- Jakub Kindl

 

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Joey MacDonald

 

Scratches: Miller or Draper

Injuries: Henrik Zetterberg (lower body), Niklas Kronwall (upper body)

LTIR: Chris Osgood (groin)

Pretty standard lineup in this one with the Hank injury.  Personally, I would have liked to see the Mule/Abby/Bert line stay together and Cleary/Pav/Happy reunited.  With that said, these lines will be shuffled depending on how the game is going.  If the Wings are up, I imagine Mike Babcock will cut back on Pav's and some others ice time.  The kids will probably get a good look throughout the weekend. 

 

DET HOW THEY MATCH UP CHI
3.1 (2nd) GOALS PER GAME 3.1 (4th)
2.9 (21st) GOALS AGAINST PER GAME 2.7 (12th)
22.4% (5th) POWER PLAY % 23.1% (4th)
82.4% (17th) PENALTY KILL % 79.1% (25th)
Johan Franzen (28 goals) GOAL LEADER Patrick Sharp (34 goals)
Henrik Zetterberg (80 points) POINTS LEADER Jonathan Toews (76 points)

 

  • The Wings are 360-260-84-9 (W-L-T-OTL) all time against the Blackhawks.
  • Detroit has a 1-2-1 record against Chicago this season.  Last time they met the Hawks won 3-2 in overtime thanks to a power play goal.
  • Last games: The Wings lost 3-0 to the playoff hungry Carolina Hurricanes and the Blackhawks came back from a 2-0 deficit (thanks to a Marian Hossa game-tying field goal) to win 4-3 in OT against the Blues.
  • Corey Crawford is 3-0-0 vs the Wings this season.  He's sporting a 1.33 GAA and a .961 save %.  All time he's 3-1-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .959 save %.
  • Mike Modano would retire if the Wings made the Stanley Cup final.
  • Food for Thought: I asked this a few weeks ago and I'll ask it again, who do you want the Wings to play in the 1st round?  If the season ended today, it would be a 1st round rematch with the Winnipeg Jets Phoenix Coyotes.  Depending on what happens with all the teams involved this weekend, the Wings could see the 'Yotes, Kings, Predators, Ducks, Stars, and yes, even the Blackhawks.  Some might say they want the Kings in the 1st round since they are missing their top two scorers, but sometimes be careful what you wish for.  I'm not sure I want to play Jonathan Quick.  We won't know for sure until Sunday, but I'll take whatever card the Hockey Gods deal us.

Prediction: I don't have the best feeling about this game (and I hope I'm wrong).  I can't pick against my Wings though.  Detroit wins 4-2.  Darren Helm is your player of the game.

 

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