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Gameday Updates: Sabres at Red Wings

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The playoff race scorches to the finish.

Franzen and Bertuzzi know what's up. HE'S BACK!
Franzen and Bertuzzi know what's up. HE'S BACK!
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings have been presented with a grand opportunity tonight. A team they terrorized in the first game of the season (despite only winning 2-1) comes back looking to stave off having the worst overall record in the league. Two points are there against the Buffalo Sabres tonight. Just. Take them. Take them and run.

Red Wings

  • DO YOU FEEL THE MAGIC IN THE AIR?! He's back! The Magic Man Pavel Datsyuk returns to the Red Wings lineup tonight. Expectations for this game and the potential elation and/ or soul-crushing have ramped up significantly.

  • Jimmy Howard gets the start tonight, and Jonas Gustavsson will man the nets against Montreal tomorrow.

  • Daniel Alfredsson is a game-time decision. If both Datsyuk and Alfredsson play, Todd Bertuzzi and Joakim Andersson will likely be healthy scratches; if just Datsyuk, then it looks like Bertuzzi's the odd-man out.

  • In less pleasant news, it looks like Stephen Weiss is done for the season. Shut it down and bring it next year.

  • In more pleasant news, captain Henrik Zetterberg looks to resume skating next week. It's unfortunate Weiss is done for the season, but with Datsyuk returning tonight and Helm having returned and not gotten injured again, you can't have all the health luck turning your way when it comes to players coming back into the lineup. (All these players getting hurt in the first place is a different story.)

  • Jonathan Ericsson is still recovering from surgery which "stabilized" a broken finger. His target return date may not be this season, depending on how far the Red Wings advance in the playoffs, should they get there:
    Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson isn’t likely to return during the first round of the playoffs, Holland said. He had surgery March 19 to stabilize a fractured finger and repair a partially torn tendon.

    --Ansar Khan, MLive
  • Finally, a little footnote on the night, referee Don van Massenhoven will be officiating his last NHL game tonight. I wonder how he'll celebrate his last game as referee of a Red Wings game.

Sabres

  • Poor Buffalo. A regulation loss tonight clinches the worst overall record in the league for them. They're currently 10 points behind Edmonton with 6 games left. The Sabres, if they get 0 points tonight, can at most tie the Oilers in points, but a pitiful 14 ROW easily gives the tie-breaker to the Canadians.

  • Forward Luke Adam has been recalled from the Rochester Americans. Find his spot in the projected lineup below.

  • Former Minnesota Wild feel-good story Matt Hackett gets the start tonight.

  • The projected lineup for the Buffalo "the Sabres can't possibly be that ba--MY EYES! AHHHH MY EYES!" Sabres:

    FORWARDS

    Cody "former Canuck" Hodgson
    Zemgus "the pride of Latvia" Girgensons
    Brian "so he apparently has 100 GP" Flynn
    Ville "have you seen his Capgeek page lately?"Leino
    Tyler "should hug Tyler Myers" Ennis
    Matt "oh the agony" D'Agostini
    Luke "2010 WJC silver medalist" Adam
    Johan "neither Franzen nor Adam" Larsson
    Nicolas "I hope he takes lots of penalties so J.J. has to write his name a lot" Deslauriers
    Cory "how'd he end up here?" Conacher
    Matt "Michelle forgot to list him as a familiar face" Ellis
    John "well, now we know why Buffalo is last in the league" Scott

    DEFENSE

    Christian "this isn't what he signed up for" Ehrhoff
    Rasmus "wicked" Ristolainen
    Jamie McBain "in the ass"
    Jake McCabe
    Chad "how do you come up with nicknames..." Ruhwedel
    Mike "who says it's yours?" Weber

    GOALTENDING

    Matt "can't" Hackett
    Nathan "...for players you've never heard of?" Lieuwen

Out of Town Scoreboard

Chicago Blackhawks at Columbus Blue Jackets: The team 1 point behind us takes on the defending Stanley Cup champions one night after blanking division foe Philadelphia. Both the Blue Jackets and the Red Wings will have 5 games remaining after tonight, so both playoff spots and playoff positioning are still very much in the air.

Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils: I honestly think both teams are done, but I've been wrong before. Washington is 4 points back of Columbus for the last wild card spot, New Jersey 5. Given the circumstances, I would expect this game to be a brutal all-out war with two teams absolutely desperate for points for a playoff spot and scrounging for every lucky break in the standings they can get; given the teams playing, I expect this game to not be anywhere near that exciting, and it will probably go to a shootout.

I went on Twitter last night to find lots of people bumming out about how supposedly every team the Red Wings "needed" to lose won their games last night. No matter how tenuous a 1-point lead over Columbus and a 2-point lead over Toronto at the moment currently are, don't be confused about who "needs" the other to lose: Toronto and Columbus, and hell, even Washington and New Jersey, need US to lose. Sure, it would be nice and would make the Red Wings' lives a lot easier, But Detroit still firmly in the driver's seat. Win your games, get your points, take care of business, and who cares what other teams are doing?

LET'S GO RED WINGS!!!