Friday, December 19, 2003

GameDay: vs. Chicago (7-16-6-3), 7:30 EST

The Wings will their fourth of six games this season against Chicago tonight downtown at the Joe. The Wings won the first two games 3-0 and 4-3 but lost the last one 4-3 in overtime last Thursday. The Blackhawks have had a terrible season so far and have only won one game in their last 18 (1-11-3-3). They are coming off a 6-1 loss to the Sens and are playing without their three best players: Alexei Zhamnov, Jocelyn Thibault and Eric Daze. The Wings are on a 9-1-1-1 streak and are 14-3-2-1 in their past 20 games. They also have several key injuries but have found ways to win regardless. The stellar play of guys like Pavel Datsyuk, who has 11 goals and 11 assists over the past 11 games, and Brett Hull who is on a 12 game point streak. The play of Curtis Joseph has been of high quality over the past five games and has contributed as well. The Wings got Henrik Zetterberg back from a broken leg for their game against the Sharks on Wednesday and he contributed three points in a 3-2 overtime win. He will help the Wings' offense be even better. Curtis Joseph will start again tonight but Dave Lewis said "Manny will go Saturday." Hasek is not due for a while now and Lewis said "It would be a guess and I don't want to guess" in response to questions about a possible return date. Not good. Steve Yzerman and Ray Whitney are scheduled to return to the ice tonight. The Captain has missed six games because of a groin tear and Whitney has missed 15 of 16 games because of another groin injury. Lewis said "Steve and Ray are both ready to go." Yzerman and Whitney were supposed to come back after the three-day holiday break next week but their returns were pushed up because they'd been skating well and without pain in practice, not because the Wings are in any real need of their services. Tomas Holmstrom will not return before the Christmas break but may return before the New Year. This is a good opportunity for the Wings to get another home win to add to their seven game win streak at home and four game overall streak. The Hawks won't go down without a fight, though, and I expect a good game from both teams. This is an Original Six game after all. Freep | News | ESPN


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