Sunday, December 28, 2003

GameDay: @ Chicago (8-18-7-3, 26), 7:00 EST

Tonight is the fifth of six games in which these two teams play each other this season. The Wings lead the series 3-0-0-1. Despite having lost over 170 man-games this season, the Wings went 8-2-2-1 during the month of December and 17-5-3-1 since losing to the Canucks 5-1 on November 3. They are coming off a lucky 2-2 tie with Minnesota where they outshot the Wild 40-24 but saw four shots beat Curtis Joseph and hit the post/crossbar. The Hawks have had several key injuries of their own, namely Alexei Zhamnov, Eric Daze and Jocelyn Thibault. They have been unable to play through them like the Wings have, however, and have had an awful season. They've gone 2-13-4-3 since Thibault's last came on November but were riding a four-game unbeaten streak going into Friday's game with the Columbus Blue Jackets. They lost the game 4-1 and gave the Jackets their first road win. Since Joseph started on Friday, I'd expect Manny Legace to play tonight. Tomas Holmstrom is scheduled to make his return to the ice tonight. To make room for him, the Wings sent Darryl Bootland back down to the Griffins. Darren McCarty is making progress and he hopes to begin light skating later this week. There is no timetable for his return but he could return by the end of January if he continues to improve at the rate he has in the past two weeks. Dominik Hasek skated briefly yesterday. Lewis said "Dom is going through a very controlled, on-ice individual workout" and added that there is no time frame for his return. Wonderful! Tonight is a good chance for the Wings to get another win and keep their lead on the Western Conference. They lead the #2 team, Vancouver by three points and the #3 team, St. Louis, by four. Toronto is leading the league with 51 points and the Wings are just two points back with 49. I don't expect an easy win for Detroit since the Hawks always seem to step it up, like most Original Six teams, when playing the Wings. A good example: They were on a 14 game winless skid when they shocked the Wings with a 4-3 overtime win on December 11. News | ESPN


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