The Ducks will be playing their third game in four nights, all on the road, and their second in two nights. Needless to say, they will be extremely tired after flying into Detroit last night. It doesn’t help that the Red Wings happen to play a puck possession style that keeps the opposition skating all night long, so the Ducks will have some heavy legs by the end of the game.
It will be important for the Ducks to get out to a quick start because they wont have much left in the tank after the first period. If they can build a lead, hopefully Jonas Hiller will be able to make it last. The Ducks would probably be happy if they could earn just one point tonight and would be lucky if they could somehow squeeze two out of the struggling Detroit team.
Just as every other team in the league, the Red Wings and Ducks are suffering from some significant injuries. The Ducks were without Saku Koivu and Ryan Carter last night and it remains to be seen whether either will play tonight. Sheldon Brookbank dressed as a forward for the Ducks in Columbus but only played 1:49 with Ryan Getzlaf double shifted at every opportunity.
The Red Wings are coming off a 9-1 victory over the same Blue Jackets the Ducks just lost to. Although the Wings are off to a slower than usual start, they are still as dangerous as they’ve always been. The knock on the team so far this season has been goaltending, so it would not be surprising to see a high scoring game. Look for the RPG line to extend their point streaks tonight.
Line combinations are expected to remain the same, depending on whether Koivu and Carter can play.
From Adam Kimelman at NHL.com:
DUCKS (6-8-3) at RED WINGS (9-5-3)
Last 10: Anaheim 3-5-2; Detroit 6-2-2
Season series: This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. Last season, the Red Wings won three of the four games, including a pair of one-goal wins. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg each had 3 goals and 3 assists in the four games. Detroit also edged Anaheim in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Big Story: Two teams heading in opposite directions — the Wings have won five of their last six to climb into a playoff spot, while the Ducks have lost four of their last six to slip to 14th in the Western Conference.
Ducks – In the last few days, GM Bob Murray has had to quash talk of a coaching change, hear goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere go public with his demands to be the No. 1 goalie and deal with rumors circulating about captain Scott Niedermayer going on the trading block.
About the future of coach Randy Carlyle, Murray was unequivocal: “There’s going to be a lot of players shipped out before the coach is,” he told the Orange County Register. “We have a damn good coach and he’s proven he can coach in this League. It’s about time some of these people prove that they’re good hockey players. That’s enough. The coach is going nowhere.”
Red Wings — Detroit has high hopes for goaltender Jimmy Howard, and in the last two games, he’s looked like the future in goal. With Chris Osgood out with the flu, Howard was pressed into duty in back-to-back games against Columbus and Vancouver. But Howard looked good in both games, allowing just one even-strength goal in a pair of victories.
“He really battled and made big plays,” coach Mike Babcock told reporters after the Canucks game. “That’s a real good sign for us.”
Who’s Hot — Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf has assists in nine straight games and points in 10 in a row. Linemate Corey Perry also has a 10-game scoring streak, and also has at least a goal in six of his last eight games. Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg has had two straight two-point games. Teammate Niklas Kronwall has 5 points in his last two games.
Injury Report – The Ducks likely will be without second-line center Saku Koivu, who sat out Friday’s game with a lower-body injury. Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby and goalie Chris Osgood are questionable due to the flu.
Stat Pack – Anaheim has 16 goals in its last six games, with eight of them coming from the top line of Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan. Detroit has 12 goals in its last two games, but they’ve been scored by nine different players.
Puck Drop – The Ducks must be looking forward to getting home. After Saturday’s game in Detroit, they’re in Pittsburgh on Monday, and then start a seven-game homestand.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, look like they’re picking up steam. Despite their offseason losses and early-season injuries, it looks like their key players are hitting their stride. With six wins in their last 10 games, they are just one point behind Central Division-leading Chicago.