Morning Skate: Lightning at Red Wings

Now watch, first I make Stars collide, now I make lightning bolts strike each other. - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Game 18

7:00p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Lightning Blog: Raw Charge

The Division leading Lightning come to the Joe and the Wings have a chance to take the lead from them by getting 2 points tonight. I'd like that a lot.

Stephen Weiss has a sore groin and is expected to miss 7-10 days. We don't know yet for sure who will fill in at 2C, but it won't be Helm, because he's not ready for that quite yet after being injured so long. Babcock said if he played him 2C minutes "he'd be done". It also won't be Zetterberg because Babcock was adamant that he will not split up the Euro Twins, saying "Someone else is going to learn to play in the 2nd hole and play well."

Hey, maybe we can borrow Valtteri Filppula?

Luke Glendening was called up from Grand Rapids, probably to serve as 4th line center if Andersson is moved up to center the 2nd line. As things sit right now, it looks like Andersson and Glendening are probably our two choices for 2C. Miller has played center before, and it looked like he was kind of playing a little like a C against the Stars, and Abdelkader has also played center, but I'm not ready to say either of them should jump in that role right now.

Johan Franzen was put on short term IR with what's being called a "back" injury and no details are being given right now. The longer we go without knowing what's going on, the more concerned I get. I respect his privacy, and understand there are reasons for not wanting to publicize what's going on, but I'm growing increasingly concerned.

In news that excites me, Xavier Ouellet was called up yesterday and Adam Almqvist was sent back to Grand Rapids. Almqvist played much better Thursday night than he did in his first NHL game, but he still made several rookie mistakes, got pushed around too much, and let the Stars get position on him pretty significantly a couple times. With the continued absence of Franzen, Ericsson and Smith still injured, and now the loss of Stephen Weiss; the team is going to need as much solid D as they can get. Ouellet didn't look out of place in the one NHL game he played against the Sharks, and he even looked impressive at times. He's more defensively responsible, and more physically ready to handle NHL competition than Almqvist is right now. We're in a stinky situation with Ericsson, Weiss, and Franzen all injured and our 2nd line still not clicking, and not getting the depth scoring we need. Ouellet gets the nod to play, and it shows that Babcock has confidence in him over the other D prospects right now. I think Ouellet's transition to the NHL is going to be a lot like Danny DeKeyser's was; much smoother than most defensemen, and impressively solid.

The second line hasn't been getting the results we need them to, and Babcock made is clear that it's not the fault of Alfredsson. Babs said Alfi is a very good player who needs some support. "We need someone to play with him... We need to give him some help... We need to help him out." Tomas Tatar practiced on the 2nd line yesterday, so maybe he'll play there... or maybe he won't. Mikael Samuelsson also rotated in on the 2nd line. Eaves and Tootoo rotated in on the bottom 6 sooo.... *throw up hands * I don't even know who's going to play for sure.

Babcock said he didn't know what his lines would be, so here's my attempt to make sense of them. The only forward line I'm sure about it the top line. We'll have any updates from practice in the Game Day Updates post this afternoon.

The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Henrik Zetterberg Pavel Datsyuk Todd Bertuzzi
Mikael Samuelsson Joakim Andersson Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar Darren Helm Daniel Cleary
Drew Miller Luke Glendening Justin Abdelkader

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Danny DeKeyser
Kyle Quincey Jakub Kindl
Xavier Ouellet Brian Lashoff

Goaltenders

Jimmy Howard (starting)
Jonas Gustavsson

Scratches: Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo

Injuries: Brendan Smith (shoulder) Johan Franzen (back?), Stephen Weiss (groin)

LTIR: Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder)

LIGHTNING THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
11-4-0 (22pts; 1st in Atlantic) Record 9-5-3 (21 pts; 3rd in Atlantic)
3.27 (6th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.53 (20th in NHL)
2.47 (11th) Goals Against Per Game 2.59 (15th)
20.7% (10th) Power Play % 17.6% (17th)
84.2% (10th) Penalty Kill % 84.1% (11th)
Steven Stamkos (13 goals) Goal Leader Henrik Zetterberg (8 goals)
Steven Stamkos (22 points) Points Leader Datsyuk & Zetterberg (18 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: Steven Stamkos is both the obvious, and correct answer. He has 13 goals and 22 points in 15 games, and the next closest in goals is Martin St. Louis with almost half as many (7).

X-Factor: Valtteri Filppula, because ex Red Wings just love scoring on us. That Ben Bishop kid is pretty good too though. He'll be hard to miss, and not just because he's 6'7" 214 pounds. He's 10-2-0 on the season and tied with Marc-Andre Fleury for most wins, 9th in the league in GAA with 2.14 and 9th in the league in SV% with .928. He's big, he's athletic, and he's good. This won't be an easy game for the Wings.

Familiar Faces: The previously mentioned Valtteri Filppula played his entire 8 year NHL career with the Wings until this season. And of course I'm legally, morally, and physically bound to state the obvious: Steve Yzerman, THE Captain, is honing his GM skills in Tampa in preparation for Kenny Holland's retirement. Kyle Quincey was a Lightning? a Bolt? a Lightning Bolt? for about 15 seconds, and Drew Miller played 14 games with Tampa back in '09-'10.

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Tampa): Two words. Steve... Yzerman... Also, I like Filppula, Ben Bishop, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos.

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Tampa): They're ahead of us in the standing.

Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Wings are 25-5-2 all time against the Lightning

  • The Wings have earned 81.3% of the points possible against the lightning, which is the Wings' highest point percentage against any team in the league. The Wings also have their second highest goals for/game against Tampa at 4.22.

  • The Wings are 2-2-1 in Saturday games this season

  • Pavel Datsyuk has 13 points (7G 6A) in 7 career games against the Lightning

  • Daniel Alfredsson has 71!!!! points (26G 45A) in 59 career games against the Lightning

  • Todd Bertuzzi has 19 points (9G 10A) in 24 career games against the Lightning.

  • Jimmy Howard is 3-0 against the Lightning with a 1.33 GAA and .957 SV%.

Prediction: Steve Yzerman's name is mentioned 95 times during the broadcast.

NOTE: The WiiM prediction contest is back. Two of our WiiM faithful are undertaking the task of keeping track of all the predictions and you can click on the link above to read all the details. How will it work? Just leave your predictions in the comments of the morning skates before the game starts. Tell us what you think the final score will be, which team you think will win, and who you think the POTG (Player of the game) will be. For example: 4-2 Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg POTG.


Let's Go Red Wings.
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