Morning Skate: Flames at Red Wings Preview

Happy - Mike Ridewood

7:30p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Flames Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline

Detroit Red Wings Tickets

It's going to be emotional tonight at the Joe. This isn't just a game between the average, middle of the pack Red Wings and the NHL's worst Calgary Flames. It's not just another Tuesday night in downtown Detroit.

Hide yo kids. Hide yo wife.

Everyone's favorite hooker loving midget returns.

Jiri Hudler is coming home.

Hopefully the Wings won't be distracted by their drunken former teammate and his entourage of women because they need two points in a bad way. It seemed like this team had turned a bit of a corner. They weren't dominating or playing out of this world or anything, but they won a few games and looked decent. Of course, nothing is going to be easy for this team. One step forward by beating the Blues and two steps back losing to the Blue Jackets.

To make matters worse, the injuries continue to pile up. After a career high and team leading 23:56 TOI against St. Louis, Brendan Smith sprained his shoulder and is out 3-4 weeks. It's just another blow to a team that can't seem to have a consistent six defenseman this season. Jakub Kindl will continue to get the chance to prove he can play in this league and Brian Lashoff could get another crack at showing what he can do. It's not all bad news though, Ian White practiced and is hoping to play if he's cleared by doctors. I expect to see him in the lineup. If White plays, Lashoff will likely sit again.

Yesterday management called up Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar. Mrazek most likely won't see action tonight, but could make his NHL debut sometime this week (the kid is legit too). Tatar on the other hand will get his shot. He's had some incidents where he's spoken out about being frustrated with not getting a shot with the Wings and now his chance is here.

He practiced in the top six and received time with the second power play unit. We'll see if he sticks there or not. It'll be interesting to see how he plays and if he takes a hold of the chance he's been given. It'll also be curious if he actually gets some real playing time both five on five and with the man advantage. Tatar is a skill guy and only 5'10". He's not going to run around and hit people. He can't do much with 6 minutes of ice time a night alongside guys like Drew Miller and Cory Emmerton.

If Ken Holland and Mike Babcock are really serious about giving this kid a chance they should play him in the top six and give him a real chance to shine. If they don't, then what's the point? Just send him back down and let him waste away in Grand Rapids with Gustav Nyquist. This isn't the old NHL. Young kids can play and you need to be able to count on them. Tatar is suited for a top 6 role. He's suited for a Hudler type role. Give him a real chance or just let him go away to the KHL.

The Expected Lineup

Damien Brunner - Henrik Zetterberg - Johan Franzen

Tomas Tatar - Valtteri Filppula - Pavel Datsyuk

Todd Bertuzzi - Justin Abdelkader - Daniel Cleary

Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo

*

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Kyle Quincey - Ian White

Kent Huskins - Jakub Kindl (Update: Brian Lashoff)

*

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Petr Mrazek

Scratches: Brian Lashoff

Injuries: Brendan Smith (shoulder), Darren Helm (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jan Mursak (shoulder)

FLAMES THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
1-3-2 (4 pts; Last in NHL) Record 4-3-1 (9 pts; T-8th in West)
2.67 (15th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.62 (16th in NHL)
3.67 (T-26th) Goals Against Per Game 3.00 (T-20th)
24.0% (8th) Power Play % 11.1% (26th)
68.4% (29th) Penalty Kill % 71.0% (28th)
3 tied with 3 goals Goal Leader Henrik Zetterberg (5 goals)
Alex Tanguay (6 points) Points Leader Henrik Zetterberg (12 points)

  • The Red Wings are 68-62-16-1 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Calgary Flames.
  • Hudler is tied for second in scoring for Calgary. He has two goals and three assists in only three games. All of the other leading scorers for the Flames have played in all six of their games.
  • Last time these two teams squared off was January 31, 2012. Unlike this season, the Red Wings received two goals from their bottom six. Emmerton scored his 5th of the season and Miller notched his eighth. The winning goal of the game? Of course, it was scored by Hudler and was his 16th of the year. Nobody forget the stairs that night.
  • Detroit was 2-2-0 against the Flames last season.
  • Howard is 7-3-0 with a 2.49 GAA and .911 SV% in 10 career starts against the Flames.
Prediction: Hudler scores but the Red Wings win 3-2. Damien Brunner is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.
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