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Morning Skate: Blackhawks in town

The Chicago Blackhawks come to town for the third game in the season series, with both teams winning one at home so far. So let's take a look at some of the stories and headlines surrounding the game in the first edition of Morning Skate. Time permitting, I will try to make this a regular feature before games and hope you enjoy it. It'll have some news, some fun, and some laughs hopefully so let's get started on it!

  • Chicago lost 3-2 last night to the San Jose Sharks. The weirdest part of looking at the boxscore? San Jose was outshot 47-14, yes 47-14, and still won the game. That speaks volumes about two things: 1. Cristobal Huet's save percentage was horrible, 3 goals on 14 shots (78.6%) does not cut it at all. 2. San Jose forced shots from the outside, exactly what Detroit needs to do.
  • Hey, Nashville lost too! 4-1 to Vancouver, leaving Detroit within 6 points of second place in the division. It is way too early to take playoff seatings but never to early to talk division standings. Hopefully a win against a division opponent will help to make up some ground.
  • Watch Mattias Ritola. He's only got one year left on his Detroit contract and many speculate he will bolt back to Sweden if he isn't called up for next year. Will he show his skills in the opportunity given to him? He has more scoring talent than Kris Newbury--the man he replaced--so we'll get to see if that is NHL talent or AHL talent.
  • Bad news for Ritola, awesome news for the Red Wings fans: Valtteri Filppula is indeed expected to return to the game Saturday. It's a Christmas miracle! Well, it will be a day late but whatever at this point. Ritola will likely be sent back down (unless he shows a huge contribution) in favor of Filppula.
  • Ville Leino...really? When are you going to start to produce? Last season: 13 games 5 goals 4 assists (9 points), +5. This season: 33 games, 3 goals 3 assists (6 points), -8. So...more than double the games played, 2 goals less and a horrible +/-. He's gotta get something going--especially if he's going to demand to stay in Detroit before the season. 
  • Tomas Holmstrom is the man this year. That is all. 
  • Shut down the Hossa. The Sharks did that for the majority of last night (until a shot deflected off a defender's stick and past Nabby) and it worked for em right? My idea for shutting him down: put Brad Stuart and/or Todd Bertuzzi on him. Those are probably the only players strong enough to deal with Hossa's power and shut him down.
  • Brad May, show Kane how to fight. Or, actually, just do something on the ice other than skate around for nothing and waste minutes and a roster spot.
  • Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight. Does Howard starting in net against a big time opponent (again) mean he's the new number one? Or is this Babcock picking the hothand and seeing how Osgood struggled against some weak shots against Chicago last week making the best decision for the team?
  • Predicted scorers: Pavel Datsyuk (he's due), Todd Bertuzzi (because hey, why not?), Nick Lidstrom (please?).

Check back later for some more coverage and eventually the game thread.