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Morning Skate: Calgary Stampede

There's a lot on the line in terms of the Western Conference race in tonight's game.

  • Jimmy Howard will start in net for the Wings tonight against Calgary. Howard let in four goals in two straight games but to two very potent offenses. How will he fare against a Flames team that scores a 27th ranked 2.51 goals per game.
  • I know I keep saying this, but this is indeed a huge game for the Wings. A 4 point turnaround for the 8th seed is up for grabs. The Flames sit one point behind the Wings and the Wings sit two back of Nashville. With a Nashville loss and a Detroit win, the Red Wings will tie Nashville for 7th in the West and gain considerable ground on Calgary--in the form of a 3 point lead.
  • Jonathan Ericsson's in the line-up for Brett Lebda. Babcock plans on rotating these guys throughout the remainder of the season most likely. I personally prefer Lebda with the way he's played in the past couple of weeks and the way Ericsson has NOT played. 
  • Datsyuk and Bertuzzi sat out of practice yesterday. Bertuzzi had a charley horse on his knee and Datsyuk has battled the flu over the past few days. They're both expected to be in the line up today but will there be any carry over?
  • Datsyuk showed his pickpocket skillz again on Sunday with 4 takeaways. That takes him to 100 on the season. Guess how much the next closest person has? 67. We love our thief.
  • Calgary's top scorer is Jarome Iginla. Iginla has 30 goals and 32 assists.
  • Behind the Net's got some pretty neat stuff up about shift length, give it a read.
  • Calgary won it's last game out, 5-2 over the Minnesota Wild. Vesa Toskala got the win for Calgary and Jarome Iginla netted a hat trick. Detroit fans wished for a 0 point night out of the Flames but not so much.
  • In the last meeting between these two, Calgary won 3-0 as the Wings were shut out for the second consecutive game. The season series is currently split at 1-1, Detroit won the first game 3-1.
  • Matchsticks and Gasoline is the Calgary SB Nation site. Give it a look see why don't ya's?
  • Rene Bourque's a very underrated player and he's capable of scoring some big time goals and providing some great plays for his linemates. Borque racked up 3 assists in the last game the Flames played.
  • A win for the Wings could push them even further along in the Western Conference. Touched on it before, but it could the steps towards a possible 6th or 7th seed instead of the 8th seed. 
  • The Red Wings need to improve in the face-off circle after being shaky for a few games and have a good chance of doing that tonight against the next to last Flames, who win only 47.4 % of their draws (compared to Detroit's 7th place 51.5%)
  • Calgary plays pretty tight defensively and allows the 7th best number of shots per game, 28.9
  • Lidstrom is averaging 25:38 per night in time on ice, a full 1:13 more than the next closest player (Rafalski) while still sporting a team-high +18.
  • Calgary's got a pretty sweet history of the 'stache. 
  • Man I'm I glad Phaneuf got traded out of the West. Not so much that I feared him or anything but it rather seemed like he was always given an undeserved sense of accomplishment. Maybe it's just me.
  • Anyone else noticed that Holmstrom is taking shots from further and further out? Good for him. It seems like he's restored confidence within himself and his scoring touch. Homer's got 3 more goals this year than last year in 2 less games than he played all last year.
  • Key match-up when the Red Wings are on the attack: The Wings fourth line is pretty incredible and dangerous. Will Kris Draper-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves have some success as a speedy fourth unit for the Wings?
  • Key match-up when the Flames are on the attack: Probably the attack of Jarome Iginla. Iginla has a special set of skills and that showed up in the Olympics for Team Canada.