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Morning Skate: Super Bowl hangover

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Hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl last night. It was a pretty good game as long as you don't factor in that horrible halftime show. After the game, when they presented the Packers with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, I couldn't help but think how much more awesome the Stanley Cup is in every facet. Not just the Cup itself, but the tradition of skating it around the ice with it overhead, sipping champagne/beer from it, having a separate day with it and just about any other thing that you could think of.

But I digress.

The Red Wings limp into tonight's game after suffering two straight shutouts to the Blue Jackets and Predators. In those two games, the Wings out-shot their opponents 69-53 and went 0 for 11 on the power play. To say they struggled offensively isn't quite accurate because they had several quality scoring chances and amassed a good number of shots, they just were unable to capitalize.

Tonight, some of that should change as they're expecting the return of Pavel Datsyuk to the line-up.  Datsyuk has been out since December 22 with a broken right hand but could be a huge spark for the Wings tonight against a Rangers team that has dropped four straight games. Take the jump for the preview of this Original Six match-up.

Blueshirt Banter is your SB Nation Rangers' site.

Preview and form after the jump.

  • Jimmy Howard will start in net for the Red Wings. Howard played pretty well in net against the Blue Jackets, but just like against the Senators, he was left hanging by the defense. Hopefully the bright lights of VERSUS will help him have a stellar game.
  • Versus you say? There are several changes happening on the network now that it's under the control of NBC. Hate Pierre McGuire? Yeah, we all do. Now it looks like he'll be part of the VERSUS broadcasts as well.
  • Pavel Datsyuk is expected to return tonight, via Ansar Khan. Tomas Holmstrom is still out. As I mentioned before the jump, Datsyuk could be a huge spark for the Wings. I think he's pissed that he has had to miss this much of the season and will be ready to kick some ass and take some pucks tonight. He won't be 100% dangles yet but it's coming and the NHL better hide in fear. What happens with the return of Datsyuk?
  • As if you needed any more proof of the best commercial from the Super Bowl:
  • Back to hockey, the Rangers have an offense that's pretty well spread. Brian Boyle leads the team in goals with 18 and has been a revelation in his third full year, tallying more goals than all previous ones combined. Behind him in goals are Brandon Dubinsky with 17 and the oft-injured Marian Gaborik with 16. Rookie Derek Stepan has 14, three of which came in his first NHL game. Which scoring threat do you fear the most?
  • Marc Staal is one of the anchors of the defense (along with Dan Girardi) and although he's often overlooked because of the accomplishments of his brothers Eric and Jordan, he shouldn't be. He can play really physical and is a top 30 in qual comp and third in relative corsi quality of competition. He's not the best in the league on defense by any means but he's out there a lot and against some quality players.
  • Sean Avery. Discuss.
  • Mats Zuccarello is 5'7", making Jiri Hudler feel like a giant.
  • Player to watch: Artem Anisimov. Why? because Brad Stuart isn't on the ice to wreck him...and he's a pretty talented guy.
  • Score Prediction: 4-3 Detroit. I think the Wings break out of this little slump and get it going offensively with the return of Pavel Datsyuk. 
  • Player of the Game: Pavel Datsyuk. Assuming this still holds true that he plays tonight, I think Datsyuk will be back and pissed that he had to miss so much time. I think it takes one period max to adjust before he's back to Datsyukian.
  • Around the League: The Caps shutout the Pens 3-0, the Bolts topped the Blues in OT thanks to a goal (40th) and 3 assists from Steven Stamkos, and New Jersey continued winning with a 4-1 decision over the Habs.
  • For discussion: Marc Savard will miss the rest of the season with concussion problems. How does this change the plans of the Bruins for the rest of the season? He's only played 25 games this season so the Bruins have played without him but does knowing for a fact that he won't return force them to make a move by the trade deadline?