Morning Skate: Western Showdown

It's Number 1 vs Number 2.

Battle of Division Leaders.

The two top teams in the West squaring off in a game that will have an impact on the race for the first seed in the West.

This game is important for both teams and I guarantee you that both teams badly want to win this game. For the Canucks, it's a chance to gain ground on the Wings for home ice advantage. Vancouver, even though they made in the Cup Finals last season, is still out to prove themselves. Not too long ago, Henrik Sedin came out and said the Canucks need to be more like the Red Wings. They're trying get rid of the diving, the cheap crap, and grow up. Tonight they'll try to prove that they can be like the Wings against the very team they're trying to be like.

For the Red Wings, it's a chance to further themselves from the pack of rabid teams nipping at their heels. It's a chance to improve the road record above .500 and do it against one of the better teams. Let's face it, the Wings suck on the road. They're a completely different team and it annoys the hell out of me. If they can go into Vancouver and stick it to a team that's pretty darn good, that's going to go a very long way for this team's confidence about playing on the road and it sure as hell will give us fans more confidence too.

This isn't a road game against a crappy Eastern Conference team. The Wings know what's at stake. The race for the playoffs is underway and Orca is on tonight's menu.

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Nucks Misconduct is your SBNation Canucks' blog.

Get your naps in after work, puck drop is just after 10p ET for us east timezone folks (the good timezone).

The Expected Lineup

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Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Danny Cleary -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Jan Mursak -- Justin Abdelkader -- Tomas Holmstrom

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Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jonathan Ericsson -- Mike Commodore

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Jimmy Howard (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Cory Emmerton and Jakub Kindl

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (jaw)

RED WINGS HOW THEY MATCH UP CANUCKS
34-16-1 (69 pts; 1st in West) Record 31-15-4 (66 pts; 2nd in West)
3.10 (5th in NHL) Goals Per Game 3.16 (3rd in NHL)
2.31 (6th) Goals Against Per Game 2.40 (7th)
18.2% (12th) Power Play % 23.0% (1st)
80.8% (23rd) Penalty Kill % 85.6% (6th)
Johan Franzen (19 goals) Goal Leader Daniel Sedin (22 goals)
Pavel Datsyuk (53 points) Points Leader Henrik Sedin (53 points)

  • The Red Wings are 81-54-18-4 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Vancouver Canucks franchise.
  • The Canucks have won five games-in-a-row and are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games.
  • Roberto Luongo is 10-10-5 with 2.64 GAA and .927 SV% all-time against the Red Wings. Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard is 6-5-0 with a 2.94 GAA and .907 SV% with 1 shutout all-time against the Canucks. Neither goalies numbers are spectacular, but this game will come down to the goalie that can make the big stop at a big moment.
  • According to Elias (via ESPN), Jiri Hudler has 10 goals in his last 16 roads games. He had 11 goals in his previous 66 road games spanning his last three NHL seasons.
  • Todd Bertuzzi is one goal away from 300 in his career.
  • From NHL.com, the Red Wings are 68-3-4 (W-L-OTL) in their last 75 games when they score four or more goals.

Prediction: This game is going to come down to three things: specialty teams, goaltending and depth. The team that gets the most of their power play is going to win. It's going to be a tough task for the Wings. Vancouver has the best PP in the league and their PK isn't pretty darn good too. The Canucks are going to get their chances and Jimmy is going to have to make the big save when necessary. The 3rd and 4th lines were fantastic on Tuesday. Those lines are going to have to outplay the Canucks bottom two lines. If the Wings can win those three areas of the game mentioned above, they'll win this game tonight. It's going to be 4-2 Detroit with an empty netter. Pavel Datsyuk is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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