Morning Skate: Wild at Red Wings Preview

Welcome back, Darren. We really missed you. - Dave Sandford

730p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit Plus, NHL Network

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Wild Blog: Hockey Wilderness

This could be considered a game of "what might have been."

The Minnesota Wild come to Hockeytown with a few faces that we would have liked to have seen wearing the Winged Wheel. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were the prized free agents way back before that whole lockout thing. Parise would have been a nice addition, but Suter was the player this team really needed to have, especially with the way the defense has played so far this season. What's done is done though. They both had 100 million reasons to head home to play for the Wild. The Red Wings have bigger things to worry about.

Detroit currently sits two points out of the top eight in the West. That's not the big concern. The concern is pretty much everything else. Just how bad have the Wings been over the first three games of the year? They are currently last in the NHL on the power play with an awesome zero goals with the man advantage. But wait, it gets better, Detroit is second to last in goals per game and on the PK. They're 23rd overall in goals against. Of course it's a small sample size, but if those numbers or similar ones continue for the next 8-10 games, well, we can stick a fork in this season. This team is better than that. They might not be the best in the west. Hell, they might not even be top 8 in the west, but they're better than a bottom feeder in the NHL.

Both the Wings and the Wild head into tonight's game after having two days off. They both played three games in four nights before their rest. Minnesota lost their first game of the season on Tuesday to the Predators. Tonight will be their first road game of the year. For the Wings, it's about getting some healthy bodies back. Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl will all return to action tonight. Detroit desperately needs Helm on the PK and to provide some energy on the third line. Bertuzzi gives the Wings another big body and someone who has the skills to score. He might not be what he used to be, but he still has more skill that some of the team's bottom six guys. Kindl's return means the Wings don't have to go sign another free agent defenseman or call anyone of up from Grand Rapids to replace Ian White. Hopefully the three returning players and the two days of rest will give the Wings a spark and we'll see them flying with some real energy tonight.

The Expected Lineup (UPDATED)

Johan Franzen - Henrik Zetterberg - Damien Brunner

Valtteri Filppula - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi

Daniel Cleary - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader

Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo

*

Niklas Kronwall - Brian Lashoff

Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith

Kent Huskins - Jakub Kindl

*

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Thomas McCollum

Scratches: Patrick Eaves

Injuries: Jonathan Ericsson (hip), Ian White (laceration), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Jan Mursak (shoulder)

WILD THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
2-1-0 (4 pts; T-5th in West) Record 1-2-0 (2 pts; T-11th in West)
2.0 (T-21st in NHL) Goals Per Game 1.33 (T-29th in NHL)
1.67 (T-5th) Goals Against Per Game 3.67 (T-23rd)
15.4% (22nd) Power Play % 0.0% (T-Last)
90.0% (T-4th) Penalty Kill % 57.1% (29th)
Dany Heatley (3 goals) Goal Leader 4 tied with 1 goal
2 tied with 4 points Points Leader Pavel Datsyuk (3 points)

  • The Red Wings are 29-7-3-5 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Minnesota Wild.
  • Suter has zero points and is a minus-3 on the season so far. Parise has a goal and is tied for the Wild's team lead in points with four.
  • Last time the these two teams squared off Detroit won 6-0 on March 2, 2012. Nine different players registered a point. Smith scored his first (and only) NHL goal. Filppula, Kronwall and Zetterberg all had three point nights. The most amazing part of the game though was the fact that Kyle Quincey was a plus-3.
  • The Wings went 2-1-1 against Minnesota last season.
  • Howard is 8-2-2 with a 1.87 GAA and .920 SV% with one shutout in his career against the Wild.
Prediction: Helm's return will actually provide a spark to team. Detroit wins 3-2. Brunner is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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