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Morning Skate: Is your house on fire, Clark?

(Editor's note: I've probably watched Christmas Vacation a few too many times this holiday season so expect that as a theme after the jump)

The Wings are fresh off a 4-1 win over the Wild in Minnesota last night but much like their last win, it didn't come without a price. Detroit has lost the services of its leading scorer Dan Cleary for about a month with a fractured ankle. Cleary scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season last night and was on pace to score well over 30 goals for the first time in his career.

With the Wings now down three forwards after losing Mike Modano, Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary, they recalled forward Jan Mursak from Grand Rapids to fill the spot. Mursak will see action immediately and play in tonight's game.The 5'11" Slovenian forward has scored 10 goals and added 11 assists this season for the Griffins and has obviously impressed the front office.

As for the Avalanche, in their most recent game they suffered a loss to the Wild 3-1. In their last 10, the Avs have pulled out a 6-3-1 record with wins over Washington, Montreal and a pair over the Blackhawks.

In the previous matches this season, the Wings dropped a shootout to Peter Budaj (effin' kidding me?) and then won 3-1, both games at home. This will be the first trip to the Pepsi Center this year and the next one will come on January 10.

Mile High Hockey for Avs' coverage.

Notes and form after the jump...

  • Non-theme: Ozzie is starting tonight. Please, let's get #400 out of the way shall we?
  • "Get me somebody...anybody. And get me someone while I'm waiting" That's a phonecall overheard from Ken Holland to Grand Rapids last night after the Cleary injury.
  • "He worked really hard, grandma"--That's the way the season has been for Jiri Hudler so far it seems. Like Griswold setting up the Christmas lights on the house, there's so much promise and excitement about Hudler. Maybe he needs Beverly D'Angelo to flip the light switch in the garage and he'll get going.
  • "So do washing machines"--If Dan Cleary were a washing machine, he'd be an industrial strength one. That's one of the worst things about losing Cleary is that he's the hardest worker on the team and possibly in the league and I think losing a guy that does so much out on the ice can stress the team in other areas.
  • "Is Rusty still in the Navy?" Ruslan Salei returns to Colorado for the first time this season. Salei has been well received by the Red Wings and their fans this season and why not? He's been a solid contributor on the defensive end and has done exactly what is needed: play better than Brett Lebda.
  • "Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!" Would the aforementioned Brett Lebda be the Wings' Cousin Eddie? 
  • "Every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so" That answers my previous question.
  • "I don't know if I oughta go sailin' down no hill with nothin' between the ground and my brains but a piece of government plastic" Maybe that should be the Wings M.O. for a while until bodies get healed?
  • "The man was wearing a blue leisure suit...the license plates were from Kansas" Is that you, JJ?
  • Score Prediction: 5-3 Detroit. I think Babcock gets the team up and ready to go for this game and has everyone playing with a new sense of responsibility.
  • Player of the Game Prediction: Todd Bertuzzi. Bert still gets boos from Colorado fans--we won't go there--but I think he breaks his goal scoring slump and starts to step up for the injured players.
  • For discussion: I couldn't think of a good quote to go with this one but who steps up into the spotlight now that Datsyuk and Cleary are out, who joins Zetterberg to be the offensive leader?
  • Off-topic: Your favorite line of Christmas Vacation? Mine is "You couldn't hear a dumptruck driving through a nitroglycerine plant."