Preview of Game 20: Detroit Red Wings

The classic white Detroit Red Wings jersey. (via hockey-jerseys.ca)

The struggling Ducks don’t get an easier matchup on Sunday as the Detroit Red Wings come to the Honda Center for an early evening game.

Season Series: 1-0 Detroit

Last Matchup: 5-0 Detroit

Not much to say about this last matchup because the Ducks got outplayed the entire game. Simply put, the Red Wings were on their game and the Ducks game at this point was still yet to be found, and it still isn’t quite found just yet. Niklas Kronwall got the scoring started for the Red Wings just about seven minutes into the first period. In the second, Henrik Zetterberg scored within the first two minutes followed by Nicklas Lidstrom less than a minute later. The third period, might’ve been the Ducks best period as they were only outshot by five instead of 11 and 12 as in the first and second periods respectively. However, the Ducks couldn’t beat Jimmy Howard and the Wings were able to score two more times with Lidstrom, his second of the game, on the power play and Johan Franzen.

Breakdown of the Red Wings:

The Red Wings are coming off a performance where they did what the Ducks couldn’t do in back-to-back nights, beat the Los Angeles Kings. They did this pretty easily as well, beating the Kings 4-1 last night. They allowed the first goal of the game to Mike Richards of the Kings shorthanded about six and a half minutes into the first period. However, they would answer quickly on that same power play when Pavel Datsyuk put home a rebound to tie it up. The Red Wings would never look back as they took control of the game in the second with goals from Niklas Kronwall and Justin Abdelkader. Then, in the third the Red Wings finished the job with another goal from Datsyuk. Jimmy Howard in net was spectacular with many fantastic saves, including one on a penalty shot by Anze Kopitar in the second that might have swung momentum in Detroit’s favor for the rest of the game. Detroit’s penalty kill killed off all five power plays while their power play scored on two of five opportunities.

After a shaky stretch of the season, the Red Wings have righted the ship and have won five of their last seven. In those seven games, they have outscored their opponents 25-12. They are playing much better hockey ever since these two teams last meeting on November 5th. “The Big Mule,” Johan Franzen, is leading the team in points with 18 while Nicklas Lidstrom is second with 14. More importantly, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are getting back to their games. With strong defense and goaltending by Jimmy Howard, Detroit is now the team we all thought they would be, very, very good.

Keys to the Game:

  • DET: Play their game, don’t stoop down to the level that the Ducks are playing at.
  • DET: Score early, like every other team the Ducks play right now, scoring first is important in taking control of the game and shutting down the struggling Duck offense.
  • ANA: Stand tall defensively and in net, the Red Wings offense is back.
  • ANA: Get off to a good start, they’ve allowed the first goal way too many times.

Players to Watch:

  • DET – Pavel Datsyuk: Coming off of a two-goal performance which broke a 12 game goal scoreless streak.
  • DET – Jimmy Howard: In my opinion, one of the best goalies in the game. How he wasn’t on the All-Star ballot, i don’t know.
  • ANA – Andrew Cogliano: The Freeway FaceOff Part 2 was probably Cogliano’s best game of the season. If the Ducks want to turn this series around, he will have to continue to have an impact like that game.
  • ANA – Teemu Selanne: Still, the best performer on this team right now. Get him on the ice and give him the puck.

Prediction:

The Ducks will need to find their game tonight or they could suffer another fate similar to the one they faced in the last matchup of these teams. However, I do think they could make a statement by competing with the Red Wings tonight. The Ducks have slowly started to turn this season around I believe. I’ve seen some much improved play lately, it’s just not resulting in wins just yet. Once Hagman gets used to this system, he could really help out this team. I think we saw the impact he could have in the second game against the Kings. But, this team is still not ready yet. I think the Wings will win tonight and it’s going to be a real tough game for the Ducks tonight.

Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Andrew Cogliano, Detroit Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader, Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Hagman, Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk, Teemu Selanne

Want more from Pucks of a Feather?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.