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Morning Skate: Finish on a High Note

Good morning, fellow Winging It In Motowners and out-of-towners alike.  Tonight, the Red Wings welcome the New York Islanders to the Joe to finish out the calendar year.  Detroit has an opportunity to start 2011 atop the league standings in points and in points-per-game percentage.  To do so, they'll need to avoid overlooking the Islanders, who sit six points above the league cellar and have exactly half the points of Detroit.

Don't let that fool you though, The Isles are 5-4-1 in their last ten and are coming off a hard-fought shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins where they snapped Sidney Crosby's consecutive-games scoring streak just shy of one billion games.  John Tavares leads the Islanders in points with 21 and with minuses at -17 since fan-favorite sign language interpreter James Wisniewski was traded to Montreal. For reference, there are eight Red Wings with as many or more points than the Isles leading scorer; two of them are defensemen.

Lighthouse Hockey is your SB Nation source for Islanders news.  Chris Botta is not.

More junk after the jump.


Awaiting confirmation, but I think Jimmy Howard gets the start again.  It'll be a chance for him to build off his burgeoning offensive numbers after he got an assist on Eaves' empty-netter Wednesday.
  • Patrick Eaves' hat trick prompted me to write an apology for ever doubting his skills.  Hopefully he can build off of his momentum, as the depth scoring during injuries has been crucial to the Wings' recent three-game win streak.  [UPDATE: Fox Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson reports on Twitter that  Eaves is out of the lineup with an upper body injury. Tomas Tatar has been called up and will take Eaves' place in the lineup.]
  • Have I mentioned that the Islanders are terrible?  I mean, it's just piling on at this point.  I know I'm setting myself up for heartbreak here, but it should be an embarrassing thought to the Wings to lose this game.  Hopefully they won't fall into the trap of relying too much on skill and not enough on work ethic because you know the boys from Long Island are going to be working their asses off to prove they can skate with the Red Wings.
  • Reminder, Casey, Graham, and I are all out doing secretive classy stuff, so we're not around for the game thread.  Recap and CSSI will be late and likely full of spelling errors (par for the course for me).
  • Score Prediction: 5-1 Detroit.  The Wings somehow overcome all of the things working against them, including: first game back from a road trip, trap game against terrible Eastern Conference team, and injuries.
  • Player of the Game Prediction: Henrik Zetterberg has been really good.  He pots 2 and assists on another.
  • Have a happy New Year everybody!  If you're going to be out of the house, be safe.  Take a cab home if you need to.  Heck, share it with somebody if you need to.  Just remember to carry exact change.