Morning Skate: Red Wings at Panthers Preview

He returns. - James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Game 40

7p ET, BB&T Center

Sunrise, FL

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

We're almost halfway through the season. Game 40 is tonight and number 40 returns to the lineup for the first time since December 1. It's a good thing too. The Red Wings have struggled this year and they haven't been very good since losing their captain to his yearly scheduled back injury. During Hank's 11 game absence, the Wings went an awesome 3-6-2, which included two losses to tonight's opponent, the Panthers.

Not too shabby.

The Wings had some other injuries along the way too. It wasn't just Zetterberg's absence contributing to the crappy record, but his omission to the lineup might've been the most glaring. Hank led the Wings with 30 points before he got hurt. Hank still leads the Wings with 30 points right now. The team missed his offensive ability in a bad way. They missed his defensive game. They missed his leadership too. Us fans, well, we missed his glorious beard and are eagerly awaiting the spotlight to shine on him on 24/7.

One man doesn't make a team, but one man can change the fortunes of a team around. Zetterberg has the ability to do it. The captain can right the ship.

The reinforcements are on their way. First Hank, next Helm, and Franzen shortly after. Two games to get it together for the Winter Classic. Two more games until it's all hands on deck in front of 115,000 fans.

The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Todd Bertuzzi Pavel Datsyuk Tomas Jurco
Justin Abdelkader Henrik Zetterberg Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar Joakim Andersson Gustav Nyquist
Daniel Cleary Luke Glendening Drew Miller

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith Brian Lashoff
Kyle Quincey Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders

Jonas Gustavsson
Petr Mrazek

Scratches: Mikael Samuelsson & Patrick Eaves

Injuries: Darren Helm (shoulder), Johan Franzen (concussion) & Stephen Weiss (groin)

PANTHERS THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
14-19-5 (33 pts; 7th in Atlantic) Record 17-13-9 (43 pts; 4th in Atlantic)
2.21 (28th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.51 (19th in NHL)
3.13 (27th) Goals Against Per Game 2.62 (13th)
11.2% (30th) Power Play % 18.0% (15th)
73.5% (29th) Penalty Kill % 84.6% (8th)
Brad Boyes (9 goals) Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (14 goals)
Tomas Fleischmann (19 points) Points Leader Henrik Zetterberg (30 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: Brad Boyes. Brad Boyes. Whatcha gonna do when he comes for you? Brad Boyes.

X-Factor: Tim Thomas.

Familiar Faces: Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias.

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Florida): The weather is nice.

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Florida): Poor view of the game live at the arena.

Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Red Wings are 14-3-5-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Panthers.

  • Last 10 games: Florida 7-3-0. Detroit 3-5-2.

  • The Wings are currently 3-5-3 on Saturdays.

  • Gustavsson is 2-5-0 with a 3.10 GAA and .898 SV% in his career against Florida.

Prediction: Cat scratch fever

Let's Go Red Wings.
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