The unofficial second half the season is set to begin.
The Wings currently sit atop the Western Conference and atop the entire NHL. The last two times Detroit led the league in points at the all-star break they won the Stanley Cup (2002 and 2008). That's a cool stat, but it doesn't guaranteed anything. You don't win the Cup in January and you sure as hell don't win the Cup if you can't win on the road.
The Wings might be downright frightening to play at the Joe, but on the road they're a completely different team. All season long Detroit has flirted with a .500 road record. They currently sit at 13-14-0 as they stroll into Calgary. It's a big game for the Wings and an even bigger road trip. The playoff race started a long time ago for the Central Division. The Wings hold a two point lead over the Blues and a three point lead over Chicago and Nashville (and if you were wondering they hold a 35 point lead over the Blue Jackets). With four game on the road through western Canada and Phoenix, the Wings better learn how to win on the road and learn fast. It won't take much for Detroit to drop from 1st in the NHL to 4th in the Central.
The road to the playoffs is underway. Points are at a premium. Don't let them slip away.
Matchsticks and Gasoline is your SBNation Flames' blog.
Puck drop is just after 9p ET
The Expected Lineup
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Injuries: Patrick Eaves (jaw)
|RED WINGS||HOW THEY MATCH UP||FLAMES|
|33-16-1 (67 pts; 1st in NHL)||Record||23-21-6 (52 pts; 11th in West)|
|3.10 (5th in NHL)||Goals Per Game||2.36 (26th in NHL)|
|2.34 (6th)||Goals Against Per Game||2.68 (13th)|
|18.5% (12th)||Power Play %||17.4% (18th)|
|81.2% (22nd)||Penalty KIll %||83.0% (13th)|
|Johan Franzen (19 goals)||Goal Leader||2 tied with 18 goals|
|Pavel Datsyuk (53 points)||Points Leader||Jarome Iginla (39 points)|
- The Red Wings are 67-62-16-1 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Atlanta/Calgary Flames franchise.
- The Wings are 0-4 in their last four road games in Canada. They've been outscored 18-9.
- If Filppula earns a point tonight, he will tie his career high and have a whole hell of a lot games left to set a new career high.
- It doesn't mean much since it's a road game, but Calgary was the last team to win in the Joe. It was a 4-1 win for the bad guys on November 3.
- From the Associated Press via the Wings official website, "Miikka Kiprusoff is 2-1-0 with a 2.67 goals-against average against Detroit, holding Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Datsyuk - the Wings' top four scorers - to a combined three goals."
Prediction: The Wings start off their road trip right. Detroit wins 3-1 and Henrik Zetterberg is your player of the game.
Let's Go Red Wings.