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Morning Skate: Boxing Day with the Wild

The Red Wings are in Minnesota today to take on the Wild.  Minnesota is coming off a 3-1 win over Colorado on the same night that Detroit fell 4-3 to St. Louis.  While they've been better than Detroit in the last 10 games category (12 points to 9), the Wild still sit only two spots above the bottom of the Western Conference and ten points behind the Conference-leading Red Wings.

Game 2 of the Pavel Datsyuk broken hand era plays tonight with the Wings needing to start this game much better than they started in St. Louis, where they allowed their opposition to jump to a 4-1 lead before starting a comeback that ultimately fell short. A good goaltending performance would go a long way as well.  Hell, while we're at it, let's also ask for a full 60 minute effort and for Red Wings' legs to keep moving.  The last one may be especially important.  Minnesota gives up almost the same number of goals per game but scores nearly one fewer than Detroit.  Their 5-on-5 scoring for/against is 0.85, meaning they allow more even-strength goals than they score.  But, don't mistake them for a completely offensively inept team.  The Wild had a power play that scores 23.5% of the time, 5th best in the league.

Detroit should win this one - They're professionals who may occasionally find it hard to get fully motivated to play every single regular season game like it's important enough, but I'd like to see that they know it's important enough to the fans that they not play like crap tonight.

Score Prediction: 4-1 Detroit

Player of the Game Prediction: Johan Franzen

Hockey Wilderness is your SB Nation blog for the Wild.