The Detroit Red Wings and the Dallas Stars, the two top teams in the West, meet this afternoon on NBC in the Game of the Week.
The Wings won both of the previous meetings, beginning with a 4-1 decision on January 2nd and continuing with a 3-0 shutout on January 5th. The fourth and final meeting will take place on March 13th in Detroit.
The puck drops at 3:30 ET.
The 36-21-5 Stars are 7-1-0 in February, with their only loss coming on the 14th in Phoenix. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak that went back to January and included wins over Vancouver (twice), Edmonton, Calgary, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Phoenix.
The night after their loss to the Coyotes, they put down the Ducks in Anaheim, 4-2. They are kicking off a three-game homestand this afternoon.
Dallas leads the Pacific Division with 77 points. Anaheim and San Jose have 71 and 70 respectively. They are ten points behind the Wings for the League lead and are four points ahead of Ottawa for second place overall.
Mike Ribeiro leads the team in assists (43) and points (67), but his 24 goals are tied with Brendan Morrow. Six other Stars have 10 or more goals: Niklas Hagman (20), Mike Modano (16), Jussi Jokinen (14), Antti Miettinen (12), Jeff Halpern (10), and Steve Ott (10).
The Stars will be without Sergei Zubov (groin/foot) and Phillippe Boucher (shoulder).
Mark Fistric (face laceration) is scheduled to play.
The starter has not been announced, but it looks like Marty Turco is a good bet.
The Wings fell to 3-4-1 in the month of February with their fifth straight loss Friday night. In what was supposed to be a recovery game, they got shellacked at home by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-1.
Rather than gradual improvement, the team's play has seemingly fallen off more with every game they've played lately. As recently as a week ago, they looked like they could pull out a win. With bad losses to Nashville and Columbus, however, this team has never looked less like the dominant force it has been most of the season.
Today's game kicks off a five-game stretch of road games, though they will return home following tomorrow night's game in Denver. After that, they don't play again until Friday in Calgary.
Despite their current nose dive, the Wings still lead the League by 10 points. If that's not a mark of their previous dominance, I don't know what is. Let's hope they can recover it soon.
Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in goals with 33, but he has not scored in his last four. Nick Lidstrom is now the team leader in assists with 50, but Pavel Datsyuk is not far behind him with 48.
Jiri Hudler is goalless in 13. Valtteri Filppula is goalless in nine. Those two have to get going.
The Wings will be without Niklas Kronwall (clavicle) for the ninth straight game. Derek Meech will continue to fill in for No. 55.
Brian Rafalski (groin) is expected to sit out for the second game in a row. If he does, Kyle Quincey will fill in.
Dan Cleary (broken jaw) will miss his third straight. It looks like Aaron Downey will dress again.
Projected lines (via Khan):
You can expect some mixing there, as Quincey and Meech will probably see time with more experienced defensemen throughout the night.
Jimmy Howard will start today. By the way, today is the first time this season I've been disappointed in Chris Osgood.
His comment to George Sipple about his record against Dallas was very uncharacteristic...and something I hope does not become a habit of his.
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.
OklahomaWingNut's GDT is here.
This is obviously a big game for the Wings, who need a win badly. I would love to see the Wings put on a great performance on national TV and make up for last week's debacle.
Can they do it? Sure. Of course. Will they? I don't know.
At this point, I'm with IwoCPO:
But don’t fret. There’s always Turco.
But that’s not going to be enough. I’m thinking we’re looking at 6.
I hope we're wrong, because I'm not looking forward to hearing the same people who called the Wings the most dominant team in hockey start hailing their downfall, as if that's what a losing streak means.
I want to see the Wings pull out of this skid and doing it while backstopped by Jimmy Howard would make for a great story, even though it may create some controversy.
Can they just flip a switch and win like that?
I hope so.