Morning Skate: Blue Jackets at Red Wings Preview

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

7:30p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Detroit Red Wings Tickets

If the city of Detroit was morphed into a amusement park, it's quite clear that the Joe and the Wings would be the roller coaster of the Motown.

There's no corner for this team to turn. The way the Red Wings play is something we're just going to have to deal with. They're far from a Stanley Cup contender. They're not going to all of the sudden start playing well and surge to the top of the Western Conference. What we see is what we get. Detroit is a team that's going to play well some nights and struggle mightily the next. Quite frankly, the Red Wings are just flat out an average team that is going to battle for the 8th seed and the right to lose in the first round.

That quote comes from the Morning Skate on February 7. Seems pretty appropriate for almost a month later too. The Wings seem to play well at times and can't get the job done other nights. Detroit has won two games, lost two games, won three and now lost four. If there is anything we've learned about the 2013 version of this team is that they're consistently inconsistent. Based off the pattern of wins and losses, it would seem that the Wings would get back in the win column tonight. Playing the worst team in the NHL will help Detroit's chances, but beating the Columbus Blue Jackets is no guarantee for this team anymore (sad, isn't it?).

The good news entering this game is that Jimmy Howard is okay. He's been cleared to play and is available tonight if Mike Babcock decides to start him. On the other hand, Mikael Samuelsson is not cleared to play after fracturing his finger. Whether you like the guy or not, more injuries is the last thing this team needs. Daniel Cleary will likely move back into the top six. Jan Mursak has been cleared to play after recovering for a shoulder injury. He could see action for the first time since the season opener. It will likely be Mursak or Patrick Eaves filling the role as third line winger. If I was a betting man, I'd say Kent Huskins returns to the lineup for Jakub Kindl. You can't take three penalties in one period if your sitting in the Leino Lounge.

The Expected Lineup

Damien Brunner - Henrik Zetterberg - Valtteri Filppula

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Daniel Cleary

Patrick Eaves - Justin Abdelkader - Joakim Andersson

Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo

*

Niklas Kronwall - Brian Lashoff

Ian White - Jonathan Ericsson

Kent Huskins - Kyle Quincey

*

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratches: Jakub Kindl and Jan Mursak

Injuries: Mikael Samuelsson (finger), Johan Franzen (hip), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Brendan Smith (shoulder), Darren Helm (back), and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder).

BLUE JACKETS THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
4-10-2 (10 pts; LAST in NHL) Record 7-6-3 (17 pts; T-9th in West)
2.19 (28th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.62 (T-17th in NHL)
3.12 (25th) Goals Against Per Game 3.00 (22nd)
13.0% (T-26th) Power Play % 13.5% (25th)
81.2% (18th) Penalty Kill % 76.1% (24th)
2 tied with 5 goals Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (8 goals)
Fedor Tyutin (10 points) Points Leader Henrik Zetterberg (21 points)

  • The Red Wings are 50-14-1-6 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
  • This is game four of a six game road trip for Columbus. They're currently 0-3-0 on the trip after dropping all their games out on the west coast. Detroit, meanwhile, has lost a season high four in a row, but has thankfully gained two charity points.
  • Last time these two teams squared off was February 2. Franzen gave the Wings an early 1-0 lead, but the BJs would go on to score four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 win. And, of course, Columbus scored both a PP goal and a shorthanded goal. Brunner added a goal in the final minute.
  • Detroit is 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. Columbus is 2-7-1.
  • Jimmy Howard is 10-2-1 with a 1.93 GAA and .930 SV% with one shutout in 15 career starts against the Jackets. Jonas Gustavsson lost his only career start against Columbus. He gave up three goals and stopped 29 shots.
Prediction: Detroit struggles but pulls out a 3-1 win with an empty net goal. Zetterberg is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.
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