Morning Skate: Maple Leafs at Red Wings Preview

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Game 68

7:30p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Leafs Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

You want to make the playoffs? You win this game.

There are a ton of scenarios for making the playoffs, but just straight up beating your opponents every night and earning two points is the most sure fire way to get the job done. The odds aren't in the Red Wings favor, but knocking off the Maple Leafs, in regulation I might add, will go a long way to helping the cause.

Toronto currently sits seven points ahead of Detroit in the standings. They're the closest Atlantic division foe in sight. If the Wings can win in regulation, that deficit is cut to five. Only five points back with two games in hand and another head-to-head matchup remaining. There are points on the table for taking and the chance to catch and potentially pass a team ahead of you.

Of course, there are tons of other scenarios for the Wings to get in or miss the cut, but none of it really matters if you don't get two points tonight. The climb only gets steeper from here on out.

The Expected Lineup (Updated)

Forwards

Johan Franzen David Legwand Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar Riley Sheahan Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller Luke Glendening Landon Ferraro
Brendan Smith Cory Emmerton Teemu Pulkkinen

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders

Jimmy Howard (starting)
Petr Mrazek


Scratches: None

Injuries: Justin Abdelkader (groin probably), Todd Bertuzzi (lower body), Tomas Jurco (ribs), Joakim Andersson (foot), Daniel Cleary (knee), Darren Helm (concussion), Pavel Datsyuk (zest), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Mikael Samuelsson (who cares), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Stephen Weiss (groin) & holy shit this list is long.

MAPLE LEAFS THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
36-25-8 (80 pts; 1st in WC Race) Record 30-24-13 (73 pts; 4th in WC Race)
2.81 (12th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.54 (18th in NHL)
3.00 (26th) Goals Against Per Game 2.69 (15th)
20.7% (7th) Power Play % 17.4% (17th)
78.4% (28th) Penalty Kill % 84.1% (9th)
Phil Kessel (34 goals) Goal Leader Gustav Nyquist (17 goals)
Phil Kessel (73 points) Points Leader Henrik Zetterberg (48 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: Phil Kessel. He's really good.

X-Factor: Also Phil Kessel.

Familiar Faces: None.

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Toronto): Original Six.

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Toronto): Randy Carlyle.

Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Red Wings are 276-273-93-4 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Leafs.

  • Last 10 games: Toronto 5-3-2. Detroit 4-5-1.

  • Howard is 0-1-1 with a 2.83 GAA, .869 SV% in 3 career games against Toronto. Yikes.

Prediction: Pleasant surprise.

Let's Go Red Wings.
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