Tonight, the Red Wings square up with the St. Louis Blues in a crucial Central Division battle.
A quarter of the way through this abbreviated season, the Red Wings have undergone many changes and have experienced many things.
For one, they have dealt with injuries—in particular to a defense that is suspect.
They have also needed to lean on Jimmy Howard too much, potentially wearing him out for a postseason run.
Yet they have won three-straight games and they look solid as a group some 12 games in.
It surely will be a test to see if the team still is a dominant force in the Central Division and Western Conference.
Here are five things to look forward to in tonight's contest.
Since their first meeting on Jan. 19, both teams have taken different paths as most teams hit the quarter point in their season.
The Red Wings have faced a rash of injuries but in the process have put up the fifth-best record in the West at 7-4-1. What's better is that their goal difference has worked itself to be plus-one (NHL.com).
On the other side, St. Louis has taken a tailspin since their season-opening thwarting against the Wings. In their last five games, the Blues have hit a sour note—their record is 0-4-1, including a 5-3 loss to the Wings back on Feb. 1 and dropped a 5-1 decision at home six nights later.
For St. Louis, this is a must-win to keep their relevance in the playoff race.
Detroit just needs to keep up their impressive three-game win streak and prove that they are still one of the best teams in the NHL.
Langenbrunner likely done for year
The only real notable injury to the Blues is to their veteran winger and 2010 Olympic Silver medalist Jamie Langenbrunner.
Langenbrunner underwent a procedure to fix his hip, likely sidelining the 37-year-old for the remainder of the abbreviated season.
He had played in four games and recorded an assist.
For the Red Wings, the injuries continue to mount. Todd Bertuzzi will miss his third-consecutive game due to a bad back. Joakim Andersson will remain with the team at this time.
Also rugged, right winger Johan Franzen, who is off to an impressive start, is sidelined due to a hip flexor and will not dress for the game (Mlive).
Dependable forward Patrick Eaves will take his spot in the lineup.
In for the Red Wings tonight will be Jimmy Howard.
After playing two games in almost 24 hours over the weekend, Howard was rewarded with two days off before tonight's contest.
So far in 11 games, he has struggled to compile the stats of last season: He has a 6-4-1 record with a 2.78 GAA and .906 save percentage (NHL.com).
The Blues have struggled with Brian Elliott in between the pipes over their last five games, allowing 26 goals in five games.
Tonight the Blues will change it up and start young netminder Jake Allen for the first time in his NHL career.
Veteran goalie Jaroslav Halak is still dealing with injury and cannot go tonight for the Blues.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko. After netting two goals in his first NHL game on Jan. 19, this Russian prospect has played up to the lofty expectations. So far this season, this dynamic wing has five goals and five assists in 12 games. His production has been a pleasant addition despite the Blues struggles.
Also, the Red Wings will once again have to deal with the Blues best defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo. The budding star is making a case to win his first Norris Trophy with 11 points (3 G, 8 A) in 12 games.
Detroit Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg. Since being named team captain, Z has truly taken the reins in the scoring department. He leads the team in scoring with 18 points and added six points in his last four games.
His linemate, Damien Brunner, has also become a threat to watch on the ice. The 26-year-old Swiss native has been impressive in his first NHL season. He has six goals, which leads the team and has nine points, which is fourth-best.
Ultimately, this game rests heavily on how many shots the Red Wings can throw at young Jake Allen.
Their power play has been much better as of late and the offensive lien has been much more consistent at getting pucks to the net and shooting in prime scoring areas.
Losing two of your top forwards tonight will hurt the Red Wings from a production stand point. They will need the energy of their patchwork bottom six to carry them to their four-consecutive team.
Having a rested goaltender will be another bonus for the Red Wings.
While the team may not be in the greatest of places right now with many AHL players, they still have settled down their game greatly.
The Blues are just trying to do anything they can to salvage this season and not go into a deeper tail spin.
Energy level and a strong penalty kill will be important for the Blues to stop the Red Wings and regain momentum.