Morning Skate: Red Wings at Maple Leafs Preview
7:00p ET, Air Canada Centre
TV: Fox Sports Detroit, CBC, NHL Network (US)
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
Leafs Blog: Pension Plan Puppets
This is the biggest game of the season thus far.
I don't think there is much more to say, but I'll try to spell it out for you if needed. There are two Wild Card spots available for the playoffs and there are four teams currently tied with 80 points that are vying for those final two spots. Two of those four teams are the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. The Wings currently sit second in the race thanks to their lack there of regulation/overtime wins. The Leafs are fourth because they've played two more games than the Wings, Capitals and Blue Jackets.
After the high of taking seven out of eight points last week, the Wings have dropped two straight in regulation. It doesn't matter if they were controversial or not. No one cares at the end of the day. It's not how you got there, just that you made it into the playoffs. This game is going to be tough. The pressure is going to be enormous on both sides. If you think it's going to be easy because the Leafs are on a slide…. think again. Toronto could lose a billion games-in-a-row and I would still believe that this game will be incredibly difficult. If there's anything we know about this Red Wings team it's that they don't make things easy on themselves. Tonight will be no different.
Enjoy the emotional ride. It's going to suck and be awesome. Don't forget your heart meds.
The Expected Lineup
|Johan Franzen||Darren Helm||Gustav Nyquist|
|Tomas Tatar||Riley Sheahan||Tomas Jurco|
|Joakim Andersson||David Legwand||Daniel Alfredsson|
|Drew Miller||Luke Glendening||Todd Bertuzzi|
|Niklas Kronwall||Brendan Smith|
|Kyle Quincey||Danny DeKeyser|
|Brian Lashoff||Jakub Kindl|
|Jimmy Howard (starting)|
Injuries: Jonathan Ericsson (finger), Justin Abdelkader (cut leg), Daniel Cleary (knee), Pavel Datsyuk (zest), Stephen Weiss (groin), Henrik Zetterberg (back) & Mikael Samuelsson (who cares)
|MAPLE LEAFS||THE MATCH-UP||RED WINGS|
|36-31-8 (80 pts; 4th in WC Race)||Record||33-26-14 (80 pts; 2nd in WC Race)|
|2.79 (12th in NHL)||Goals Per Game||2.60 (19th in NHL)|
|3.08 (26th)||Goals Against Per Game||2.75 (16th)|
|20.6% (4th)||Power Play %||17.8% (17th)|
|78.1% (28th)||Penalty Kill %||83.52% (12th)|
|Phil Kessel (36 goals)||Goal Leader||Gustav Nyquist (25 goals)|
|Phil Kessel (77 points)||Points Leader||Henrik Zetterberg (48 points)|
Player to Fear: Phil Kessel.
X-Factor: Toronto's goaltender.
Familiar Faces: None
Thumbs up (One Thing to Like About Toronto): Original Six.
Thumbs down (One Thing to Dislike About Toronto): Winter Classic result.
Bullets of Knowledge
- The Red Wings are 277-273-93-4 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Maple Leafs./
- Last 10 games: Toronto 2-8-0. Detroit 4-5-1./
- Howard is 1-1-1 with a 2.61 GAA, .894 SV% in 4 career apperances against Toronto./
Prediction: Heart attack.