9:00p ET, Pepsi Center
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
Avalanche Blog: Turns out there isn't one. Weird. I thought there was. Oh well [J.J. edit]
Petr Mrazek was sent back to Grand Rapids yesterday and Jimmy Howard will either back up Jonas Gustavsson tonight, or possibly start; depending on how his hand feels. I hope Monster gets the start for a couple of reasons. 1.) He's playing very well and not only could the confidence be a huge benefit for him, but due to injuries, he's only played 9 games since March, 2012 and he needs to play. 2.) I would much rather have Howard rest his hand and make sure it's completely healed (or as much as is possible during a hockey season) than try to come back too soon and prolong the healing process.
There are so many fun story lines coming into this game. The blood-boiling rivalry may be (mostly) in the past, but with the history between them, and Roy's (Waaah) return to the team, the jokes practically write themselves. Will Patrick Roy lose his shit (wait, that's not a question). Will the Red Wings have the honor of handing the Avalanche their first loss of the season, and Roy's first loss as an NHL head coach? Will Dominik Hasek, in a quest to set history right, charge into the arena and challenge Roy to fight? After all, Mike Vernon has his go in 1997, and Chris Osgood has his turn in 1998.
The Red Wings have won their last 3 games and Tuesday night against Columbus, Daniel Alfredsson got his first goal as a Red Wing. The Wings are certainly not a dominant team yet, but they're getting better, and we've seen significant improvement in the last few games. The Avs are off to their best season start in franchise history and haven't lost a game yet. With the Avs' 6th win, Patrick Roy tied the NHL record for victories to start an NHL coaching career. That's not the good part though. Roy is now tied with Mario Tremblay who won his first 6 games with the Montreal Canadiens in 1995-1996. Now this was a special time, because Patrick Roy played for Montreal during this time. In fact, his very last game as a Canadien came on December 2, 1995 in a game against the Detroit Red Wings. After being lit up for 9 goals on only 26 shots, Roy was finally pulled in the middle of the second period. He was livid and stormed off the bench, but not before telling team president Ronald Corey "This is my last game in Montreal". Four days later Roy was traded to the Colorado Avalanche and the rest is history.
The Wings swept the 3 game season series against the Avs last year, and the only other time we'll play them this season is on March 6th when Captain Nick Lidstrom's jersey rises to the rafters. Regardless of how many times Patrick Roy says this is just another game, I know that he'd be thrilled to beat the Wings, especially in Colorado, and I'm sure the players will bring their best game to try to win it for him. I expect this to be a butt puckering game.
The Expected Lineup
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Todd Bertuzzi|
|Johan Franzen||Stephen Weiss||Justin Abdelkader|
|Daniel Cleary||Joakim Andersson||Daniel Alfredsson|
|Drew Miller||Luke Glendening||Jordin Tootoo|
|Niklas Kronwall||Jonathan Ericsson|
|Kyle Quincey||Danny DeKeyser|
|Jakub Kindl||Brian Lashoff|
|Jonas Gustavsson (Starting)|
Scratches: Brendan Smith, Mikael Samuelsson & Tomas Tatar
LTIR: Darren Helm (body), Patrick Eaves (knee and ankle)
|RED WINGS||THE MATCH-UP||AVALANCHE|
|5-2-0 (10 pts; 2nd in Atlantic)||Record||6-0-0 (12 pts;1st in Central )|
|2.57(15th in NHL)||Goals Per Game||3.50 (8th in NHL)|
|2.29 (6th)||Goals Against Per Game||1.00 (1st)|
|19.0% (Tied for 20th)||Power Play %||19.0% (Tied for 20th)|
|85.7% (5th)||Penalty Kill %||93.8% (1st)|
|Henrik Zetterberg (5 goals)||Goal Leader||Matt Duchene (5 goals)|
|Henrik Zetterberg (9 points)
||Points Leader||3 tied with 7|
Player To Fear: Matt Duchene has 5 goals and 7 points in 5 games. He's young, fast, smart and skilled with the puck, and with his new whippy stick, he plans to score more goals.
X-Factor: Semyon Varlamov has won all 5 of his starts and has a .965 SV% and 1.20 GAA. Varlamov isn't as good as those stats make him sound, but he's been good. Here's to hoping the Wings can get into his head, light him up, and maybe even make him cry. He's only given up 6 goals in 5 games, but he hasn't seen our Euro Twins yet.
Familiar Faces: Kyle Quincey played 160 games for the Avalanche. The Wings drafted Quincey with their
first fourth round pick in 2003, he was claimed off waivers by the Kings in October of 2008 and then traded to the Avalanche in July 2009. On February 21, 2012 Quincey was traded to Tampa Bay for Steve Downie, but was only a member of the Lightning for about 15 seconds before Steve Yzerman turned around and traded him to the Wings for a first round pick.
Thumbs Up (One Thing I Like About Colorado): I was introduced to hockey for the first time when two young men were hired at the store I worked at. They also happened to play for the local NAHL team, which is where my hockey addiction started. One of those young men happens to be from Colorado, and is an Avalanche fan. Despite his misguided allegiance, I am eternally grateful to him for getting me hooked on hockey. We're living proof that something wonderful (A Red Wings fan) can come from something not so wonderful (an Avalanche fan).
Thumbs Down (One Thing I Don't Like About Colorado): Two words... Claude Lemieux.
Bullets of Knowledge
- The Red Wings are 62-41-5-5 all time against the Avalanche.
- Daniel Alfredsson has 15 points (4G,11A) in 18 career games against the Avalanche.
- Pavel Datsyuk has 41 points (15G, 26A) in 39 career games against the Avalanche. He's only scored more career points against Phoenix (57), Nashville (68), and St Louis (72).
- Niklas Kronwall has 2 game winning goals against the Avalanche, tied with the Kings for most GWG he's had against a single team.
- Jonas Gustavsson has never played against the Avalanche.
Prediction: In honor of Patrick Roy, the Red Wings starting lines hold the Statue of Liberty pose during the National Anthem.
NOTE: The WiiM prediction contest is back. Two of our WiiM faithful are undertaking the task of keeping track of all the predictions and you can click on the link above to read all the details. How will it work? Just leave your predictions in the comments of the morning skates before the game starts. Tell us what you think the final score will be, which team you think will win, and who you think the POTG (Player of the game) will be. For example: 4-2 Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg POTG.
Let's Go Red Wings!!!