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Morning Skate: Filibuster!

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The last game before the Wings officially break for the Olympics. So needless to say this game is both a.) important, b.) in the way, and c.)a mix of effort. I think some of the Olympians might play conservatively while the guys that will be watching from the stands like Darren Helm, Brad Stuart, etc. might play their best games of the year with such a big break upcoming.

 

  • Remember when you would play the Ottawa Senators in NHL 95/96/97 because they were horrible and so easy to beat (backhand sweep across the goalmouth!) ? Well, those days are over and the Senators are sitting pretty in the Northeast division. Sens are 9-1-0 in their last 10 and are 13-1 in their last 14. Please, can the Wings get a streak half as good as that going?
  • Expect Jimmy Howard to start for the Wings in between the pipes and Brian Elliott at the other end of the ice.
  • The Senators are stacked with talent on the offensive side of the puck. Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Alexei Kovalev, Mike Fisher and Milan Michalek. The Senators have a pretty even distribution of goals, 6 players over 10 goals and 4 of those over 15. 
  • Brian Elliott has been rock solid in net for the Sens of late. Yeah, he gave up 5 to the Caps but who doesn't? In that13-1 streak dating back to a January 18 win,  Elliott has allowed more than 2 goals only in 2 of the 12 games he started (Pascal Leclaire started the other two). 
  • Special Teams: Senators power play is clicking at a rate of 15.9%, 27th in the League. Their penalty kill is successful 83.6% of the time, 8th in the league. Detroit's power play has declined to a 17.6% clip (18th in NHL) from a very high rate last year but their penalty kill is up to 82.0% which is good enough for 14th.
  • Andreas Lilja was officially recalled yesterday. So how do the Wings have any cap room for him after only waiving Brad May? Kirk Maltby's going to go on long term IR with a nagging shoulder injury it seems. Don't expect Lilja to play tonight against Ottawa though. 
  • They don't call them the Eurotwins for nothing. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have identical points numbers. Both players have 16 goals and 31 assists for a total of 47 points each. 
  • So even though there's an Olympic Break upcoming, we'll do our best to make posts relevant to the Wings playing in particular games. We'll cover Sweden for sure because of the volume of Wings players and other games will be highlighted. In fact, we'll even run a poll tomorrow on whether or not you'd like game threads for the big games.
  • Silver Seven is the SB Nation Ottawa Senators blog. Really good stuff over there.

Niklas Kronwall could return tonight but I don't think its safe enough to bank on yet. 
  • So Mike Fisher is engaged to Carrie Underwood. Lucky.
  • Hope you all watched the opening ceremony at Vancouver last night. It was pretty incredible I thought. 
  • Senators dropped Jonathan Cheechoo yesterday to waivers and picked up Matt Cullen from Carolina in a trade. Cheechoo was a former Rockey Richard Trophy winner (believe it or not) and set records for San Jose.
  • Jonathan Ericsson needs to get his stuff sorted out sooner rather than later. Last year Big Rig was a reliable and steady player. This year, the only thing consistent is inconsistency. Ericsson's been all over the ice at times. Sure, I understand he's young and still learning but in all reality that time for learning is starting to run out.
  • How to beat the Senators: That's what 13 of the past 14 are trying to figure out. In all honesty, I'd say it's not about beating a particular team but the Red Wings finding cohesiveness and playing their game. Complete passes and keep puck possession, set up the middle of the ice instead of taking shots from the outside.
  • Key matchup to watch when the Wings are on the attack: Johan Franzen again. He could be continuing to ramp up his play and with one game left to prove he's capable to the Swedish Olympic guys, he might be able to make enough of a statement. 
  • Key match-up to watch when the Senators are on the attack: Anything Daniel Alfredsson does with the puck. He's an exceptionally good player and probably doesn't get as much credit as he deserves.
  • Check back later for lines and any roster changes and, of course, the game thread.