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Morning Skate: Penguins at Red Wings Preview

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Game 34

Gregory Shamus

7p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: Fox Sports Detroit, NHL Network (US)

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Pens Blog: PensBurgh

Let's not kid ourselves here. This is not a game the Red Wings should win. It isn't because the Wings suck or are playing incredibly terrible. It's because, quite frankly, the Penguins are the more talented team. This isn't 2008 anymore. Hell, it's not even 2009.

I am, however, looking forward to this game tonight. While I'm not expecting a victory, I really want to see how this version of the Wings matches up against the Penguins and their superstars. I'm also curious to see if this team can get up for the challenge of stopping #87 and #71 (the one in the white & gold sweater that can actually play). I want to see how the defense plays. I want to see how the specialty teams looks. On paper, the Pens are top 10 in goals per game, goals against, power play % and penalty kill %. That's pretty good.

I am also looking forward to seeing the Wings revamped 4th line. It still features #71 (the one in the red sweater that is on the back nine of his career), but has a few reinforcements from Grand Rapids. Probably not the exact two players we wish would have been called up to get a crack at the "Men's League," but still better than the status quo the last few games.

The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Justin Abdelkader Pavel Datsyuk Daniel Alfredsson
Todd Bertuzzi Johan Franzen Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller Joakim Andersson Tomas Tatar
Daniel Cleary Luke Glendening Patrick Eaves

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey Brendan Smith
Brian Lashoff Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders

Jonas Gustavsson (starting)
Petr Mrazek

Scratches: Mikael Samuelsson

Injuries: Jimmy Howard (knee), Stephen Weiss (groin)

LTIR: Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), Henrik Zetterberg (back)

PENGUINS THE MATCH-UP RED WINGS
22-10-1 (45 pts; 1st in Metro) Record 15-9-9 (39 pts; 4th in Atlantic)
3.00 (6th in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.67 (14th in NHL)
2.21 (4th) Goals Against Per Game 2.46 (13th)
25.9% (1st) Power Play % 19.6% (10th)
87.1% (2nd) Penalty Kill % 85.4% (8th)
Chris Kunitz (17 goals) Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (13 goals)
Sidney Crosby (44 points) Points Leader Henrik Zetterberg (30 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: Sidney Crosby. He's the best player in the world whether we like him or not.

X-Factor: Evgeni Malkin. He's good too.

Familiar Faces: Chris Conner played 8 games for the Wings in 2011-12.

Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Pittsburgh): 2008.

Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Pittsburgh): 2009.

Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Red Wings are 62-58-16-3 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Penguins.

  • Last 10 games: Pittsburgh 7-2-1. Detroit 5-3-2.

  • The Wings are currently 2-4-3 on Saturdays.

  • Gustavsson is 2-3-1 with a 3.63 GAA and .887 SV% 6 career games against the Pens.

Prediction: Mrazek plays.

Let's Go Red Wings.