Red Wings-Coyotes: Detroit GameDay

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Red Wings-Coyotes: Detroit GameDay

Update (2:16 PM): Richard Nickerson of Coyotes Corner has posted his preview of the game.

He has some good keys for the Coyotes, though the second one (physicality) has become a little bit outdated over the past 2-3 seasons. This Red Wings squad doesn't get intimidated by physical play like the team has in the past. Their win over a very physical Ducks team last week is only the most recent demonstration of that change.  - Matt

 

Update (1:50 PM): George Malik points out that Phoenix "super-pest" and NHL-leader in PIMs Daniel Carcillo returned to the lineup last night and will be dressed tonight.

It's a shame Aaron Downey won't be on the Wings' bench, but I suppose Dallas Drake acts as a bit of a deterrent, as well. - Matt 

Update (1:00 PM): Thanks to Sarah  for pointing out (in the comments at OtW) the significance of the AHL move mentioned in the  9:23 update below:

"... the Redenbach loan was in exchange for the Griffins sending their current enforcer (ed. - Adam Keefe) to San Antonio (Phoenix’s AHL affiliate) because Darren McCarty is expected to join the team, pending NHL clearance."

See Bruce MacLeod's post on the McCarty situation. - Matt

Update (12:55 PM): A bit of a correction to the 12:37 update: Ansar Khan reports that the MRI results have not yet come back, but Lebda doesn't consider the injury to be serious. - Matt

Update (12:37 PM): Bruce MacLeod has more details on Lebda's injury, noting that, despite the fact that the defenseman participated in all three practices this week, the training staff prescribed rest. An MRI was done on the wrist, but apparently no significant problem was found.

MacLeod says Lebda's status for Friday and Saturday's Colorado and Boston games will be determined tomorrow.

Helene St. James has some quotes from Lebda himself. - Matt

 

Update (12:20 PM): The Hockeytown Blog's Ryan Doherty reports that  Brett Lebda is out tonight with a wrist injury that he suffered during the first period of the Anaheim game.

Brett finished the game with 13:00 in TOI, so the injury can't be too serious, but the team can afford to be cautious with him. He told Doherty that he's day-to-day, leaving in question his status for Friday's game against the Avalanche.

Derek Meech will take Lebda's place in the lineup and should see time with Chris Chelios.

Doherty also indirectly confirms the return of Dallas Drake and Henrik Zetterberg by reporting Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis as healthy scratches. - Matt

Update (11:28 AM): It's worth noting that Phoenix's game in Columbus last night wasn't your run-of-the-mill road win. The Coyotes came back from two deficits and scored three third period goals to pull out a 4-2 decision over a pretty solid Blue Jackets team.

Early on, there's little doubt they'll be pumped from vaulting into the 8th spot with the win, but they may start to run out of gas just as the game hits the third period, during which the Wings play their best defensive hockey. - Matt

Update (10:35 AM): As hot as Peter Mueller has been, Radim Vrbata has been hotter: he produced a hat trick last Thursday and netted one more goal last night to bring his total to four in two games. Expect him to receive some special shutdown attention tonight. - Matt

Update (10:30 AM): Officials for tonight:

Referees: Dave Jackson (8) and Tom Kowal (32)
Linesmen: Greg Devorski (54) and Scott Driscoll (68)

Via NHL Media. - Matt

Update (9:23 AM): OklahomaWingNut has posted his GDT at Kukla's Forums.

Also, an AHL note: the Coyotes sent Tyler Redenbach to the Griffins on loan. - Matt

 Tonight is the fourth and final game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes this season.  The Wings lead the series 3-0 with wins on October 20th (5-2), December 1st (3-2), and December 29th (4-2).

The 27-21-2 Coyotes are 9-3-1 in 2008, with their only losses coming to Edmonton (January 10th, 5-2), Minnesota (January 13th, 4-1), Columbus (January 17th, 4-3), and Chicago (January 19th, 2-1 SO).  

Phoenix started the month of January with four consecutive wins before they hit a patch of alternating wins and losses.  Since the shootout loss to the Blackhawks on the 19th, they have won three in a row, including games against the Sabres (6-2), Predators (4-3 OT), and Blue Jackets (4-2).  With the win over Columbus, which came last night, the Coyotes improved to 6-6-2 against the Central Division.

Currently, the Coyotes are fourth in the Pacific Division, ahead of only Los Angeles.  Their 27 wins and 56 points are good for the 8th spot in the West, though two other teams also have 56 points with fewer wins.

Shane Doan leads the Coyotes with 48 points, but Radim Vrbata is the leading goalscorer with 22.  Rookie Peter Mueller has scored five goals in his last five games, bringing his total to 15.  Doan (16), Vrbata, and Mueller are three of the team’s five 10+ goalscorers; Steven Reinprecht (12) and Fredrik Sjostrom (10) are the others.

Dan Carcillo (knee injury) is the only Coyote listed as out.

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in net for Phoenix.

For the Coyotes' point of vew, see Coyotes CornerHip Shot Blog, One Fan's Perspective (and this guest post at Behind the Jersey), and True Coyote Love.

In Coyotes news not related to the game, they are sponsoring PGA Tour golfer Jeff Quinney for a year.  Bizarre.

The Wings are 8-2-1 in January, with two blocks of four wins sandwiching a three-game skid.  They began the month with a pair of wins over Dallas (4-1, 3-0) and a win each over Chicago (3-1) and Colorado (1-0).  They then lost in a shootout to Minnesota  (6-5) on the 10th and proceeded to lose their next two games, beginning with a 3-2 decision in Ottawa.

Three nights later, they dropped one to the Thrashers, 5-1.  Beginning with a 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver on the 17th, however, the Wings pulled out of that skid and continued on with three consecutive road wins: San Jose (6-3), LA (3-0), and Anaheim (2-1).

Detroit is atop the Central Division, the West, and the League with a 37-10-4 record and 78 points.

Henrik Zetterberg is the team's leading goalscorer (28) and point-getter (61), but Pavel Datsyuk is not far behind in points, with 58.  Six Red Wings have 10+ goals: Dan Cleary (19), Tomas Holmstrom (19), Pavel Datsyuk (17), Valtteri Filppula (15), and Jiri Hudler (11).

Hudler has not scored in five games, however, and is among the coldest of the Wings' scoring forwards.  Datsyuk is goalless in his last seven, making him the offensive forward most due for a breakout game.

The Wings should be in good shape tonight, with Henrik Zetterberg (back injury) slated to return after missing two games.  Dallas Drake (knee injury) is also scheduled to dress for the first time in five.  Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis will both be healthy scratches.

Apparently Dan Cleary won't miss any more time after sustaining a nasty black eye in a fight with Chris Pronger in the first period against the Ducks on Wednesday.  The swelling forced him to miss the game, but it has since gone down.

Bruce MaCleod provided the following lines from practice yesterday:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Samuelsson-Franzen-Cleary
Hudler-Filppula-Kopecky
Drake-Draper-Maltby

I suspect things will look somewhat different tonight:

Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
Samuelsson-Filppula-Cleary
Franzen-Draper-Maltby
Drake-Kopecky-Hudler

Projected pairings:

Lidstrom-Rafalski
Kronwall-Lilja
Lebda-Chelios

As usual, expect some mixing as the game goes on.

Chris Osgood is scheduled to start.  That's a good move by Babcock, who is no doubt looking to restore his goaltender's confidence after the shellacking he suffered in the All Star Game on Sunday.

For more of the Wings' perspective, see Snapshots, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, Red Wings Nation, yzerman is god, Detroit Hockey, LetsGoWings, and Winging It In Motown.

Tonight's a key game for the Wings as they look to pick up where they left off before the Break.  They are well-rested and should be ready to face a hot Phoenix team in what could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.

The Coyotes are no longer pushovers and should make things interesting, though they won't be all that fresh, having played in Columbus last night.  If the Wings bring their A game, Phoenix will be hard-pressed to pull out another road win.

The puck drops at 7:30 PM EST.

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