Pregame: We’ll be without Nick Lidstrom for at least a couple more games, it seems. Our Captain has a deep bone bruise in his ankle and will be re-evaluated on Monday. Kyle Quincey, at least, is back in the lineup, and the Wings reassigned Doug Janik to the (undoubtedly relieved) Grand Rapids Griffins. Jimmy Howard will be our starting goalie for the evening.
The Minnesota Wild are somewhat injury-depleted as well (understatement). They lost goalie Niklas Backstrom to injury last night against Montreal and discovered today that he’s expected to be out for 2 to 4 weeks. Expect Josh Harding to get the start tonight. The Wild are also missing Clayton Stoner, Guillaume Latendresse, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mike Lundin, and Miikko Koivu.
That’s a lot of guys.
19:25 GOAL for Valtteri Filppula! Gets in alone, picks up his own rebound and backhands it past Harding while falling to the ice. This is Val’s 20th goal of the season– his very first 20 goal season!
18:52 Delay of game penalty to Cal Clutterbuck.
13:04 Penalty to Nick Johnson for slashing.
3:56 GOAL for Brendan Smith! Justin Abdelkader tries to kick it up to his own stick right in front of the net but Smith picks it up and roofs the shot. It’s his first career NHL goal. (And both of his parents are in the crowd to see it in person!)
Shots in the first were 13 to 5 in favor of Detroit. Hits were 11 to 9 in favor of Minnesota. I guess we should be relieved they didn’t get the hit counter from Columbus in for this game…
12:55 GOAL for Darren Helm! Tries to make a pass but the puck bounces back to him and he gets the shot through and past Harding.
9:15 Holding penalty to Jiri “Garden Gnome” Hudler.
3:25 GOAL for Filppula! Detroit controls the puck for quite some time in the Wild’s zone (1:14). Takes a nice pass from Henrik Zetterberg and rips a hard shot from the high slot.
2:18 GOAL for Ian White! Shoots from right side, and the puck bounces through and fools Harding.
Shots 12-5 for Detroit in the second.
19:24 High sticking penalty to Matt Cullen.
14:30 GOAL for Hank! Filppula returns the assist favor and sets up Hank for a nice shot into a mostly empty net.
Wings’ Twitter feed reporting that Todd Bertuzzi has left the game with a lower body injury and will not return this evening.
14:12 Holding penalty to Darroll Powe.
11:21 Penalty to Dany Heatley for roughing.
Drew Miller and Darren Helm are getting some power play time.
6:22 Interference penalty to Brendan Smith.
2:50 Powe thinks he spoiled Jimmy Howard’s shutout, but the refs waved it off as Powe pushed Howard into the net on the way through. Incidental contact, not a goalie interference call.
And that’s it! Howard gets his 6th shutout of the season, but isn’t even one of the three stars of the game, which should tell you how anemic Minnesota’s offense looked tonight. (They managed 19 to Detroit’s 35.) Three stars were: # 3 Brendan Smith, # 2 Henrik Zetterberg, and # 1 Valtteri Filppula.
Next up: Detroit hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at 4:00.
Perennial pains in the rump Nashville come to play at the Joe tonight.
Nashville comes in on a three game losing streak. Star defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber have been their usual reliable selves, but goaltender Pekka Rinne has been unusually sieve-like. The usually solid and often spectacular Rinne was pulled after giving up three goals to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. Then on Wednesday, Rinne and the Preds took a 1-0 lead into the third period against Minnesota and proceeded to give up three goals on eight shots, eventually losing 3-2.
Think of that. Three goals on eight shots to the Minnesota Wild. The trappiest team in the West just offensively exploded all over you.
(This may actually be partially due to my cosmic influence. I made a point of choosing Rinne for my fantasy team this year. I figured he’d either play lights out like he did last season and bring my fantasy team to glory, or he’d tank like my fantasy goalies almost always do and make the Central Division an easier place for Detroit. Nashville’s opponents can thank me later.)
That said, Nashville always brings their A game against the Red Wings and they should not be taken lightly. Furthermore, the Minnesota Wild just offensively exploded all over them. This is humiliating. This is likely to result in a Nashville team looking to take out some aggressions.
Detroit comes in having put away the defending champion Bruins yesterday, but the win was not exactly a pretty one. The Wings were outplayed by the Bruins for considerable stretches of the game, and it was superb goaltending from Jimmy Howard which kept them in it long enough to give them a chance to win.
Travel time may also be a concern for the Red Wings, although it helps that yesterday’s game was a matinee, which should mean that everyone was home and tucked in to bed at a reasonable hour. Pavel Datsyuk’s resurgent offense with Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen on his wings could rattle Rinne since he’s already feeling a lack of confidence, but goalies have strange mental focus abilities ordinary humans don’t. The key will be to test him early and often.
George Malik reports from the morning skate that Patrick Eaves will be in the lineup in place of Cory Emmerton (healthy scratch) tonight. Jimmy Howard will be getting his 15th straight start. (The possibility of wearing out the goalie is an issue that will be addressed later.)
Let’s go, Red Wings! *clap clap clapclapclap*