Morning Skate: Duck Hunting

Which Red Wings team is going to show up tonight?

Let's hope it's the team that is confident and dominant at home because the Ducks are arguably the hottest team in the league since the ball dropped on New Year's Eve and it became 2012. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about this game. The Ducks have been playing well and you know they hate the Red Wings just as much as the Wings hate them. Anaheim is going to want to be the team that ends the home winning streak.

The Wings will once again be without all-star goalie Jimmy Howard and another name will be added to the injured list as Danny Cleary will miss tonight's game as well. He didn't return last game after taking a check into the bench door against the Oilers. He's been having knee issues and has been putting off getting a procedure done. He'll be getting his need drained and will be out at least a week. There was hope Howard could return Sunday, but that seems unlikely and he'll be back in another 7-10 days.

It's going to be a challenge for the Wings tonight. It won't be an easy game. The defense is going to have to do their job in front of Joey MacDonald. They need to block shots, take away chances and just make sure their goaltender is put in the best position to win. The Wings best players need to be their best players and they need to be better than the Ducks. If Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen and Filppula can be better than Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, then the Wings will win this game.

A win tonight would put the win streak at 19. That's a damn fine number. More importantly there are two huge points on the line tonight. The Canucks have pulled within one point of the Wings and have a game in hand. The Blues are within three points and have two games in hand. Detroit needs to keep winning. Home ice could be the difference come playoff time. The road to the postseason is underway and the Wings can't let the points slip away.

*

Anaheim Calling is your SBNation Ducks' blog.

Puck drop is just after 7:30p ET on Fox Sports Detroit for the locals and NHL Network for us out-of-towners (game will be blacked out on Center Ice and GameCenter).

The Expected Lineup

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Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Justin Abdelkader -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Jan Mursak -- Cory Emmerton -- Tomas Holmstrom

*

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jonathan Ericsson -- Jakub Kindl

*

Joey MacDonald (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Mike Commodore

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (jaw), Jimmy Howard (finger) and Danny Cleary (knee)

DUCKS HOW THEY MATCH UP RED WINGS
21-24-8 (50 pts; 13th in West) Record 36-17-2 (74 pts; 1st in NHL)
2.57 (19th in NHL) Goals Per Game 3.09 (4th in NHL)
2.91 (24th) Goals Against Per Game 2.36 (6th)
17.2% (18th) Power Play % 17.7% (15th)
83.8% (10th) Penalty Kill % 80.2% (25th)
Corey Perry (23 goals) Goal Leader Johan Franzen (21 goals)
Teemu Selanne (50 points) Points Leader Pavel Datsyuk (55 points)

  • The Red Wings are 45-16-7-2 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Anaheim Ducks franchise.
  • Tonight will be Tomas Holmstrom's 1,000 career game. Pretty sure no one ever expected the 10th round pick in the 1994 draft (257th overall) to play in 1,000 games. It's pretty damn amazing when you think about. Homer will probably never have his number raised to the rafters and might not make the Hall of Fame, but there is no doubt that he is the best player to ever stand in front of the net, tip in goals and frustrate the hell out of goalies. The Wings don't win four Stanley Cups without him. Thank you, Homer.
  • Break up the Ducks! Anaheim is 11-3-2 since the calendar changed to 2012. They were in 14th place and 19 points back of 8th on when the year started. They've only move up one spot in the standings to 13th, but they're only 10 points back of 8th now. Just goes to show how hard it really is to move up in the standings.
  • The Red Wings, however, are 12-4-1 since the calendar changed to 2012. Two hot teams tonight.
  • Jonas Hiller is 2-6-0 with a 3.52 GAA and .910 SV% all-time against the Red Wings. Joey MacDonald has never played the Ducks.
  • J.J.'s boy Drew Miller has four goals in his last five games. He's got a career high 11 goals this season and has tied his career high of 19 points. Feed the Miller?

PLAYER STATISTICS DURING 18-GAME HOME WIN STREAK

GOALS ASSISTS POINTS
Datsyuk 5 19 24
Filppula 7 13 20
Franzen 10
9 19
Hudler 4 11 15
Lidstrom 6 9 15
Zetterberg 6
9 15
Kronwall 7 7 14
White 2 12 14
Bertuzzi 5 8 13
Cleary 2 8 10
Miller 5 4 9
Helm 4 4 8
Holmstrom 5 3 8
Abdelkader
1 4
5
Stuart
1
4
5
Emmerton
3
1
4
Ericsson 1
3
4
Kindl 0 4 4
Conner 1 1 2
Brunnstrom 0 1 1
Eaves 0 1 1

Prediction: It's a close one. Wings win 3-2 and Pavel Datsyuk is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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