Morning Skate: Never Gonna Give You Up

Sigh. What could have been.

***UPDATED WITH NEWS THAT DOUG JANIK HAS BEEN CALLED UP AND NICKLAS LIDSTROM IS OUT TONIGHT***

***UPDATE THE SECOND: JOEY MACDONALD IS GETTING THE START****

Which Red Wings team is going to show up tonight?

I know that I was the one that originally posed that question, and in keeping with tradition I decided to ask it again this morning. And the question is interesting because, technically speaking, the same team that we've seen all year will play in Columbus.

Ken Holland decided that there was no one out there worth picking up at the prices being demanded by their old teams, and he liked the team he has now, so Kyle Quincey is your one and only deadline addition. This has not sat well with Wing fans, who saw conference rivals Vancouver, Nashville, Chicago and San Jose all make their teams better to varying degrees of success (Johnny Oduya? Really?).

However, other fans have remained relatively calm and believe (rightly) that this team still has the talent and ability to be successful and contend for a Stanley Cup. This is the same team that is currently 5th in both goals for/game and goals against/game, has the best 5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio and is tied for 1st in the Central Division with the Blues. Despite only adding Quincey, the Wings are as good as or better than (when healthy) any team in the Western Conference.

So we're stuck with the same Red Wing team, and one of the issues that plagued this team prior to the trade deadline was their inability to beat bad teams. We've seen the Wings struggle against the Islanders, Canadiens, Maple Leafs and others, and tonight the Wings head to Columbus to take on the NHL's worst team, the Blue Jackets. The Jackets traded away Jeff Carter and Antoine Vermette and lost Grant Clitsome to waivers, but still own Rick Nash for the time being. This is a Jackets team that may actually be worse right now than when the Wings faced them last, and they are ripe for the picking.

So, despite no new faces, the Wings have the same questions surrounding them: can they win on the road, and can they beat bad teams? Tonight they can answer both of those questions for the time being with a resounding win.

The Cannon is your Blue Jackets SBNation blog.

Puck drop is a little after 7:00 pm ET.

*

Henrik Zetterberg -- Valtteri Filppula -- Jiri Hudler

Danny Cleary -- Justin Abdelkader -- Todd Bertuzzi

Johan Franzen -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Jan Mursak -- Cory Emmerton -- Tomas Holmstrom

*

Doug Janik -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jakub Kindl -- Brendan Smith

*

Joey MacDonald (starting)

Jimmy Howard

(Those are the forward lines they skated with in practice. No word yet on defensive pairings.)

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (concussion), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle) and Kyle Quincey (groin)

BLUE JACKETS HOW THEY MATCH UP RED WINGS
18-37-7 (43 pts; 15th in West) Record 41-19-3 (85 pts; 2nd in NHL)
2.27 (28th in NHL) Goals Per Game 3.02 (5th in NHL)
3.26 (29th) Goals Against Per Game 2.33 (5th)
16.7% (18th) Power Play % 17.5% (14th)
75.5% (30th) Penalty Kill % 82.2% (15th)
Rick Nash (21 goals) Goal Leader Johan Franzen (23 goals)
Rick Nash (43 points) Points Leader Pavel Datsyuk (59 points)

  • The Red Wings are 47-12-1-6 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Blue Jackets.
  • A cure for the Wings' anemic power play may be a trip to Columbus to take on the league's 30th ranked PK. The Jackets rank 11th in times shorthanded, so look for the Wing to take care of business with the man advantage.
  • During the Wings' recent 23-game home winning streak, they amassed 56 points, or 13 more than what the Jackets have gotten all season. (Ed note: as pointed out by a very astute and brilliant CBJ fan in the comments, the Wings actually only amassed 46 points during their winning streak. It was simple math gone wrong. I blame the Detroit school system, in that I did not go to school in Detroit and therefore they forgot to teach me how to multiply. It's still 3 points more than what CBJ has gotten all season, so I guess their suckitude is less glaring with the updated and correct information. Congrats)
  • The Blue Jackets are 3-12-2 against the Central Division this year, but one of those regulation wins was against the Red Wings in Columbus. It was their first win of the season and the 2nd loss of THE STREAK (that seems like a really long time ago, doesn't it?)
  • With Pavel Datsyuk still recovering from knee surgery, Valtteri Filppula could have a good night. He's racked up 5 points in 3 games against the Blue Jackets this season, and will get significant playing time on the top line.
  • A win tonight would see the Wings finish off the month of February with a record of 8-3-2. Imagine how good March would have been had Ken Holland made a bunch of moves to improve this crappy team.
Prediction: It's a little weird to say this about a game in February against the worst team in the NHL, but the Wings need to make a statement tonight. They need to jump out to a huge lead and coast to an easy win, something they haven't done in a while. They need to take advantage of a team in absolute turmoil and assure everyone that even without Pavel Datsyuk, this is still a hell of a team. Wings win 5-1 and Filppula is your Player of the Game.


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