Ah, Friday finally. Big games on tap tonight and Sunday so a pair of points tonight could be huge for Detroit heading into the Sunday showdown with Chicago.
- Jimmy Howard will start in net for the Wings tonight. Despite giving up the four goals in the loss to Vancouver, Howard will hit the ice again in a game that is big for the Wings heading down the stretch. Some kind of expected Osgood would get the nod but if you ask me, this is Babcock giving Howard a chance to immediately redeem himself.
- And redeeming himself is a must. Howard's play could have been better but he's only going to be as good as the defense in front of him. That defense played too aggressive and tried to step up in the offensive zone too often (Wellwood goal) or tried to hold people at the line (Kesler's first goal).
- Kronwall's game against Vancouver might have been the worst he's played in a long time. It will be interesting to see how he comes out tonight and how he adjusts based on his play on Wednesday. It's hard for me to pick on Nick Jr. but his play was rough to watch the other night.
- Brett Lebda in, Jonathan Ericsson out. I kind of touched on this during the Vancouver game that as much as I originally liked the idea of Ericsson and Lilja being paired, in the long run that won't work well with their sluggish skating. Lebda provides more speed and he had actually been playing pretty solid in the week or two leading up to the Olympics.
- Todd Bertuzzi's been relegated to the third line. Jason Williams worked pretty well with Zetterberg and Cleary last game so Babcock has decided to go with that tonight. But we know how he likes to change lines so...
- Johan Franzen is my home boy. Since his return, Franzen's scored 5 points (4 goals,1 assist) and 25 shots in 5 games and has been the only player fully interested and involved each night seemingly. He's not afraid of going into the middle of the ice and that's what the Wings offense needs.
- Franzen vs. Franson. That coulda been confusing but Franson has had rib injuries keeping him out of the line-up and then he was sent down to Milwaukee of the AHL eventually.
- Nashville won its last game out over the LA Kings by a score of 4-2, putting them 5 points ahead of Detroit and 3 behind Colorado.
- Nashville tightened up their defense for the playoff run by acquiring Denis Grebeshkov
- On the Forecheck is your source for Predators info. Dirk runs a great site over there so give it a look-see.
- I wonder what Andreas Lilja is thinking..."Sweet, third game back and I get to face the guy who almost ended my career." I don't expect Lilja to even come close to fighting anyone in the near future so don't expect any sort of revenge. And also, it's not like Weber hit him in a dirty fashion, just one of those things that comes with dropping the gloves.
Of the fight, Lilja said "It's not his fault,'' Lilja said after Friday's morning skate. "Stuff like that happens. You just have to roll with it.''
- Speaking of Lils, he's been pretty solid in his two games back. You'd expect a guy that missed 366 days of NHL play to be a little more rusty. Sure, that line change was bad but so was the dump in that he was expecting to allow him to change. I expect that he'll improve with every game he gets under his belt.
- Nashville is 6-2-2 in it's last 10 while Detroit is 4-3-3. Ouch.
- Nashville's leading scorer is Martin Erat in terms of points with 39 (19 G, 20 A). Patric Hornqvist leads the goal scorers with 23
- Detroit was horrible in the dot last game against Vancouver. They need to improve on that aspect or it could be another long night in Detroit.
- Key match-up to watch when Detroit is on the attack: The line of Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom has found some great chemistry and hopefully that will continue against the Predators.
- Key match-up to watch when Nashville is on the attack: The line of Erat-Goc-Hornqvist should be pretty entertaining to watch. The two top point-getters on Nashville paired together...on the third line?
- Nashville lines:
Sullivan - Arnott -Dumont
Ward - Legwand -Smithson
Erat - Goc -Hornqvist
Wilson - O'Reilly - Tootoo
Suter - Weber
Hamhuis - Klein