"Oh no, not the Joe."
That's a refrain you would hear from opponents coming into Joe Louis Arena to take on the Detroit Red Wings. It's where the Red Wings set an NHL-record 23-game home-winning streak two seasons ago. It's where they went 13-7-4 last regular season before going 4-2 in the playoffs as a 7 seed. Now they sit at a paltry 5-6-6 on the season at the Joe. With the halfway mark of the season and the Winter Classic coming on fast, there's no better time than now for the Red Wings to right the home-winning ship.
- I double-checked this time to make sure I wouldn't make the same mistake again. This time the Red Wings' projected lines aren't changed from the Morning Skate.
- Injury front: Stephen Weiss had an MRI Friday and is still awaiting results. Ken Holland said not to expect him back before Christmas though.
- Another late Christmas present will be the return of captain Henrik Zetterberg. He skated for the first time today since December 1 against Ottawa, but he isn't expected to return from his herniated disc until December 28 against Florida.
- And they might as well delay Christmas three days because the 28th is also the target date for Danny DeKeyser's and Darren Helm's returns to the Detroit lineup. The injured shoulder buddies may be back before then.
- As per yesterday's updates, Jimmy Howard is out 2-4 weeks with a grade 1 MCL sprain.
- Jonas Gustavsson is in net tonight. Petr Mrazek has been told he'll get the start tomorrow against Tampa Bay. For all the talk of Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson signings helping bring an Eastern Conference "savvy" to the team, I wonder how much Gustavsson's days in Toronto will influence how he plays against Crosby and Malkin.
- Shawn Thornton has received a 15-game suspension for sucker-punching Brooks Orpik a week ago today. Orpik has been skating since suffering a concussion, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma claims that is only to keep him from being sedentary.
- The Penguins come into Joe Louis Arena on the second leg of a back-to-back. They played against New Jersey last night where apparently Marc-andre Fleury led the Penguins to a win.
- In addition to Orpik, the Penguins also have (in no particular order) Tanner Glass, Beau Bennett, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, and Tomas Vokoun out due to injury.
- James Neal is currently out serving a 5-game suspension for his knee to Brad Marchand's head in the same game last Saturday where Thornton sucker-punched Orpik. But when you still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, frankly there's not too much to be concerned about in a regular season tilt.
- Jeff Zatkoff is projected to get the start in goal.
- Penguins' projected lines
FORWARDS Chris Kunitz Sidney Crosby Pascal Dupuis Jussi Jokinen Evgeni Malkin Jayson Megna Chris Conner Brandon Sutter Joe Vitale Craig Adams Zach Sill Chuck Kobasew DEFENSE Olli Maatta Kris Letang Deryk Engellend Matt Niskanen Simon Depres Robert Bortuzzo GOALTENDING Jeff Zatkoff Marc-andre Fleury
"Blood boiling." That's the phrase Brendan Smith used to describe how he's getting up to play tonight against the Penguins. As frustrating as the Red Wings have been against opponents we think they should beat, against "bad teams," the other side of the coin is that they get up the play good teams. Having Zetterberg and Howard out hurts, but the guys out on the ice are definitely going to get up to try to shut down some of the best players in the world in Crosby and Malkin.
Hey, Brendan, you know what else you can do besides get your blood boiling? GET HUNGRY!
LET'S GO RED WINGS!!!