Tonight's game has a little more meaning to it for those Red Wings fans that are from the greater Toronto area, that's why I asked our very own Graham, born and raised near the mean streets of Toronto, to set up tonight's Original 6 clash.
In the recent history of the Red Wings, there are several teams that have elicited strong feelings of hatred and rage. However, one team that often gets overlooked when talking about rivals are tonight's opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I've written at length about my feelings regarding the Leafs and their fans, but what people tend to forget is that these two teams were extremely bitter enemies for a very long time. Well before the Leafs finally punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference in 1999, they tangled with the Red Wings in the old Norris Division, creating some memorable moments. Playoff matchups in the 1980s, Probert vs Clark, Nikolai Borschevsky. Battles between the Leafs and Red Wings were bitter, physical and at times ugly.
However, while the enmity between the fans who can remember those times remains strong, the overall bad blood between the teams is virtually non-existent. Both teams have moved on to find new enemies. The Wings get to do battle with the Sharks, Ducks and Avalanche, while the Leafs tangle with the Canadiens, Sabres and Senators.
Tonight, two former rivals clash in a game that means more to some of us than others. If you're old enough to remember the old Norris Division, then it's a chance to rekindle the animosity that may have gone dormant while you focused on the new Central Division. We may not play them as much as we used to, but that doesn't mean we can't get a good hate on for at least one night.
Oh, and if you need any additional motivation: these two may be playing each other in the Winter Classic next season.
The Expected Lineup
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Scratches: Mike Commodore
|RED WINGS||HOW THEY MATCH UP||MAPLE LEAFS|
|25-13-1 (51 pts; 4th in West)||Record||20-15-5 (45 pts; 8th in East)|
|3.26 (3rd)||Goals Per Game||3.15 (5th)|
|2.25 (5th)||Goals Against Per Game||3.15 (25th)|
|19.5% (6th)||Power Play %||21.1% (3rd)|
|81.8% (20th)||Penalty Kill %||73.4% (30th)|
|Johan Franzen (16 goals)||Goal Leader||Phil Kessel (23 goals)|
|Pavel Datsyuk (40 points)||Points Leader||Phil Kessel (46 points)|
- The Red Wings are 275-272-93-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Maple Leafs
- This is the 644th meeting between these two clubs
- A win will give Detroit a .500 record on the road. They're currently 10-11-0.
- Jimmy Howard can record his 100th win tonight.
- Toronto has the worst ranked PK in the league. If the Wings get the man advantage, they must score.
- Phil Kessel is second in the league in goals and third in points. Brian Burke probably still gave the Bruins way too much for the kid, but the trade doesn't seem as lopsided as it once did.
- Dion Phaneuf was hit in the face from a slap shot in Toronto's last game, a 4-0 win over the Jets (surprising because he doesn't play for the Wings). He is expected to play tonight.
Prediction: So it's an Original 6 battle, he Wings are on their annual fathers trip, they visited the Hall of Fame with their dads, Jimmy is going for win number 100, if you add in overtime losses with the regulation losses the all-time series is tied up and 275 wins for each team...tonight's game is going to be fun. I smell a competitive, close scoreless game in the first period and the Wings break down the door in the second. Detroit wins 3-0 and Jimmy Howard is your player of the game.
Let's Go Red Wings
Let's Go Lions.