Morning Skate: Take A Jimmy Thing

March 2, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Reinforcements are making their way back to the lineup.

The three most important players on the Red Wings roster have all been injured the last few weeks, but one of them is back tonight. Jimmy Howard will be putting on his #35 Winged Wheel sweater and will be standing tall between the pipes in Los Angeles. We all know what Lidstrom and Datsyuk bring to this team, but Jimmy Howard might be the most important player the Wings have had on the sidelines. He might be the only player on the ice that is capable of stealing a game on his own and that's something the Wings need right now and in the playoffs.

The Wings face a familiar opponent in the Los Angeles Kings. Just last week Detroit stole a victory in the final five minutes against the Kings. Tonight is going to be another battle. The Kings are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. It's two desperate teams that are desperate for points. The Wings are better than they were last Friday. Jimmy's back, Abdelkader is over his flu, and Nyquist has a few more games under his belt, but the Kings aren't just going to lay down. Jonathan Quick has the ability to steal a game and the Kings are the second best team in the league when it comes to preventing goals. We might have a goalie showdown on our hands tonight.

Detroit better bring it's A-game tonight. The Blues are six points ahead and the Wings only have one game in-hand. The Predators are only two points back. It's now or never for the Wings The race for the playoffs is getting close to the end and you can't give away any more points.

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Jewels From The Crown is your SBNation Kings' blog.

Puck drop is just after 10:30p ET on Fox Sports Detroit

The Expected Lineup

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Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Johan Franzen -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Danny Cleary -- Justin Abdelkader -- Gustav Nyquist

Jan Mursak -- Cory Emmerton -- Tomas Holmstrom

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Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Kyle Quincey -- Ian White

Brendan Smith -- Doug Janik

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Jimmy Howard (starting)

Joey MacDonald

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (concussion), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (oblique).

RED WINGS HOW THEY MATCH UP KINGS
44-22-3 (91 pts; 4th in West) Record 32-25-12 (76 pts; 11th in West)
3.04 (4th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.16 (29th in NHL)
2.32 (4th) Goals Against Per Game 2.10 (2nd)
16.2% (T-20th) Power Play % 16.2% (T-20th)
81.6% (18th) Penalty Kill % 88.0% (4th)
Johan Franzen (25 goals) Goal Leader Anze Kopitar (20 goals)
Pavel Datsyuk (59 points) Points Leader Anze Kopitar (58 points)

  • The Red Wings are 80-77-27-2 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Los Angeles Kings franchise.
  • This the final matchup of the season between these two teams. The Wings are 3-0-0 so far and gutted out a 4-3 in the last meeting on Friday.
  • Neither team has been spectacular recently. The Wings are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and the Kings are 5-4-1.
  • With Bertuzzi out again, Nyquist once again gets the call. He started last game on a line with Cleary and Abby, but ended the game playing with Helm and Mule. It will be interesting to see which direction Babcock goes with his 2nd and 3rd lines or if he just juggles them throughout the game.
  • Jonathan Quick is 5-9-0 with a 3.25 GAA, .898 SV% and one shutout in his career against the Wings. Jimmy Howard is 5-4-0 with a 2.69 GAA and .914 SV% all-time against the Kings.

Prediction: The return of Howard and the top line make all the difference in this one. Wings win 3-1 and Henrik Zetterberg is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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