The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs meet this afternoon for the only time this season.
Detroit leads the all-time series 274-272-93-0.
The puck drops at 3:00 ET.
Dan Marouelli and Dean Warren will officiate the game. David Brisebois and Greg Devorski will man the lines.
The Maple Leafs are 7-9-1 thus far in 2008, with five of those losses coming together from January 3rd to January 12th. They won their three games from January 15th to January 19th, but are 2-3-1 since. They lost to Washington, St. Louis, and Carolina (OT) before pulling out a win over the Senators on February 2nd.
Three nights later, they lost 8-0 to Florida, but they rebounded from that embarrassment with a 4-2 win over Montreal on the 7th.
The Leafs are last in the Northeast Division with 53 points and are 14th in the East. They are four points from last place in the League.
Toronto will be without Alexei Ponikarovsky (shoulder), Mark Bell (orbital bone), Chad Kilger (personal) and Daryle Boyce (shoulder).
The Globe and Mail reports that Alex Steen (shoulder) will return this afternoon. Bryan McCabe (broken hand) returned to the lineup Thursday. Nik Antropov will be free to return from a three-game suspension.
Mats Sundin leads the team in goals (22), assists (35) and points (57). Antropov (18), Ponikarovsky (13), Matt Stajan (12), Jason Blake (11), and Steen (10) are the other Leafs with double-digit goals.
Former Red Wing Boyd Devereaux has seven goals and nine assists. McCabe has just four goals and eight assists. Niklas Kronwall's brother, Staffan, has zero points over ten games and hasn't played since December 4th.
It looks like Vesa Toskala will get the nod for the Leafs today.
For the Leafs' perspective, see No Stanley Cups Allowed, Battle of Ontario, Bay Street Bullies, Bitter Leafs Fan Page, Bring Back Potvin (preview here), Buds Banter, and Pension Plan Puppets (preview here).
The Wings are 12-3-1 in 2008 thus far. Three of their losses came in a clump in middle of January and snapped a four-game win streak that started the year.
After a loss to Atlanta on the 15th, they rattled off eight straight wins, but that stretch ended Thursday night with their 5-3 loss to the Kings.
Detroit is first in the League with 86 points, 15 ahead of the No. 2 team, Dallas.
Henrik Zetterberg scored his team-leading 32nd and 33rd goals Thursday night. Pavel Datsyuk leads the team with 47 assists and his 65 points are second-best to Zetterberg's 68.
Dan Cleary (20), Tomas Holmstrom (20), Datsyuk (18), Valtteri Filppula (15), Jiri Hudler (11), Brian Rafalski (10), and Johan Franzen (10) are the other Wings with 10 or more goals.
Niklas Kronwall (clavicle) is the only injured Red Wing at the moment. Derek Meech will fill in for the fourth straight game.
Matt Ellis was in the lineup Thursday night at Dallas Drake's expense. I suspect there's a chance Babcock will go with Aaron Downey today, which would mean Drake would sit another game.
Dominik Hasek will be in net for the Wings.
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.
This is obviously a big prestige game for both teams.
Although the Leafs have struggled greatly this season, a win in the media storm in Toronto on Hockey Day in Canada would be definite boost to the Wings as they head into another big prestige game tomorrow.
For the Leafs, a win over the top team in the league would be huge for team morale.
The Wings were embarrassed Thursday night—and that should not bode well for Toronto, as Detroit will be looking to rebound in a big way.
This is definitely one of those days where I wish I was at home in the Detroit area rather than here in West Michigan where CBC is not offered.
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