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Morning Skate: SMASHVILLE!

First off, I think that ad campaign is incredibly stupid. That would be like calling Detroit, D-troit for exceptional defense (not like this year's team would know anything about that apparently...) But anyway, let's get going on this.

  • Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight for the Wings. Chris Osgood gave up 5 goals last game out against the Wild but to be fair, Howard gave up 5 the last time he took the ice too. Howard needs to be strong in net for the Wings and have a much better outing than against Phoenix.
  • Will someone on the Wings please play some defense? I've become pretty sick and tired of sitting and watching our defenders (and forwards) just stand around while the puck is passed around the ice. This isn't bubble hockey, you can move more than one direction guys.
  • Kyle is going to have another interview up today so look for that. It's with one of the highly talked about prospects within the Red Wings so make sure you check it out.
  • Forward Jason Williams is expected to return to the line-up tonight after missing a considerable chunk of time with a broken leg. What this means is...
  • NO CHOOSING BETWEEN MAY AND LEINO! They can both sit out tonight with Williams coming back and frankly I think it's the best decision. Leino's been a big disappointment this year and Brad May's been...well, Brad May.
  • Back to Williams, who knows if he'll get time on this unit tonight but he gives the Wings a big stick on the blueline on the man advantage. He's got an absolute canon from the point (see video after the jump) and is a pretty solid passer as well.
  • Please, shake off the loss to the Wild and get two much needed points tonight. The psychological let down of the Phoenix game must have been rough on the Wings so imagine after the loss to the Wild. Ugh.
  • The Predators are 4-6-0 in their last 10 and have lost 4 straight. 
  • On the Forecheck is your source on SB Nation for any Predators notes, news, analysis etc.
  • Wings sit one point out of 8th spot in the West right now, thanks to Calgary's complete collapse. Calgary has lost 9 straight contests and have allowed the Wings to stay in the hunt while they themselves stumble. Calgary lost to the Coyotes in a shootout for their 9th straight L but did pick up a point. 
  • Coming up fast in the rear view mirror of the Red Wings: Minnesota Wild (58 pts) Dallas Stars (57 pts) St. Louis Blues (56 pts) and the Anaheim Ducks (55 pts) have even turned it up lately 
  • Exactly one point separates each team from 7th place on down to 13th place.
  • I don't know what is wrong with this team (trust me if I knew, I'd call Uncle Mike every 5 seconds until I got through) but it almost seems like everyone is focusing on something else. Too often the team takes the ice and looks flat from the start. And on night's that they don't come out flat, they either run into a brick wall goalie or just forget to play defense.
  • Darren Helm has taken quite a few bad penalties recently. I'm glad he's so damn good at everything else. 6 mins in the last two games compared to his 8 in his previous 44. 
  • Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are apparently Identical Euro Twins. 12 G, 37 A each, ice-time average within 30 seconds of each other. Weiiiird.
  • Key matchup to watch when Red Wings are on the attack: Pavel Datsyuk's line. He's been on fire lately and hopefully will continue that.
  • Key matchup to watch when Predators are on the attack: Not so much a Predator to watch as they're all pretty solid contributors but more so how the Red Wings defense holds up.
  • Pre-game video: