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Morning Skate: Millerfest 2011

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Two losses-in-a-row?

That's unacceptable around these parts.

Have no fear though fellow Red Wings fans...the cavalry is coming back!  Yes that's right, Mike Modano is back in the line-up tonight and Valtteri Filppula may very well will be joining him.  Val has been out since the 3-2 win against the New York Rangers on February 7.   Modano hasn't seen action since November 26 when the Wings defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1 in a post Thanksgiving division showdown (remember when the BJs were "threatening" for the division? Ha).  Not everyone is back as Patrick Eaves will miss his second straight game.  But whether you're Prodano, Nodano, So-sodano, or Emodano, the sight of #90 back in a Winged Wheel sweater will be a pleasant sight to see. 

The Buffalo Sabres come into the game in the exact opposite position.  They've won two-in-a-row after taking care of business last night at home in a 4-2 win over the Senators.  The win put them three points out of 8th in the (L)East.

Die By The Blade is your SBNation Sabres' blog.

More after the jump.

Reminder: The H2H2 Pledge Drive continues through March 5th

The Expected Line-up:

Pavel Datsyuk -- Jiri Hudler -- Danny Cleary
Johan Franzen -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula -- Mike Modano -- Tomas Holmstrom
Kris Draper/Justin Abdelkader -- Darren Helm -- Drew Miller

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Brad Stuart
Niklas Kronwall -- Jonathan Ericsson
Ruslan Salei -- Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Jimmy Howard

Healthy scratches: Draper/Abdelkader

Injuries: Patrick Eaves (groin), Brian Rafalski (back spasms)

There may or may not be some It appears there will be a brother-vs-brother battle tonight.  At the time of posting the morning skate, it was still unknown if Flip will play tonight.  He's a game day/game time decision.  If he does play, That means someone on the fourth line will be a healthy scratch...but wait! There's more!  Apparently, Darren "Danger" Helm has a sore foot after blocking a shot last night, so he might be questionable for tonight.  PLUS!  Word around the Internet is that the Miller family is headed to Buffalo to watch their kids play.  So will Drew get to play against Ryan and in front of Kevin, Kelly, Kip, Mom and Dad Miller?  Will Draper rest his old legs?  Will Helm's fooot be okay?  Will Abby dress?  Stay tuned to for the game thread later today to find out.  UPDATE: According to Khan(!), Helm and Miller are in and their winger will either be Drapes or Abby.

3.3 (2nd IN NHL)
2.9 (18th) GOAL AGAINST PER GAME 2.9 (20th)
20.9% (5th) POWER PLAY % 18.5% (11th)
81.8% (14th) PENALTY KILL % 81.4% (18th)
Franzen (26 goals) GOAL LEADER Stafford (24 goals)
Zetterberg (66 points) POINTS LEADER Vanek (51 points)


Other Notable Statistical Information That You Should Know:

  • Buffalo has a worse record at home than on the road.  The Sabres are 14-15-2 at home and 15-10-4 on the road.  This is good for the Wings who are better on the road too.  Detroit is currently 20-8-2 on the road.
  • The Sabres are 8-5-1 against the West, but only 1-3-0 versus the Central Division.
  • Olympic hero Ryan Miller is 2-5-1 in his career against the Red Wings with a 3.50 GAA and a .896 SV%.
  • From the I'm Really Surprised By This Statistic Department, the Red Wings career record against Buffalo is 47-52-13-1 (W-L-T-OTL).  The Sabres are one of five teams in the history of the league that the Red Wings have a losing record against (The other four are the Canadiens, Flyers, the old Senators, and Maroons).

Potentially Intriguing Match-up:

I mentioned this to Casey yesterday, but I'm extremely curious to see the 6' 5" Jonathan Ericsson play against the 5' 5" Nathan Gerbe.  Rig literally has an entire foot on the kid.  Ideally, I hope this match-up does not that often as I foresee terrible things in our future if it become a common occurrence.  Either Gerbe will just skate circles around Rig and toy with him on the ice...OR Rig will just grab Gerbe by the back of the jersey and pick him up while Gerbe's little legs continue to move and try to skate.  I'm picturing this as a cartoon.  If @stevieroxelle is reading should make this your next drawing for TPL.  I did pay my pledge tab today for H2H2 (there's still time to pledge!  Do it for the children!), but if somehow Nathan Gerbe ducks and skates in-between Ericsson's legs at any point during this game, I'll throw in another $10 (yeah...yeah...yeah I know that's not a ton, but I'm fresh out of college and on a budget these days).


I know Joey Mac is getting the start, but I think (I hope) the defense will show up and play a much tighter game.  I'm going with a 4-2 Red Wings victory.  My player of the game is Johan Franzen.  He is going to be jacked up for the upcoming arrival of Baby Mule and will score a few goals for the soon-to-be-newborn.

Let's Go Red Wings.