Monday, December 15, 2003

GameDay: vs. Florida (10-14-6-1), 7:30 EST

Tonight is the first and only game between these two teams this season. The Wings are 7-1-1-1 in their past 10 games and 12-3-2-1 in their past 18 having earned at least one point in 15 of those games. The hottest player on the team is Pavel Datsyuk, who has 10 points in his past four games and 16 in his past six. He is now tied with Markus Naslund (who scored a goal in last night's 2-1 overtime win over Carolina for Vancouver) for NHL scoring leader with 37 total points and was named the NHL's Offensive Player of the Week today. The Wings will be looking to extend their home winning streak to five games tonight and are coming off a 5-1 win Saturday over another Southeast Division opponent, the Washington Capitals. The Panthers are riding a three game unbeaten streak and are coming off a 2-2 tie with Nashville on Saturday. Florida's Roberto Luongo has a 2.33 GAA and a .931 save percentage and is one of the league's top goalies this year. Olli Jokinen is the team's leading goal scorer with 11. The Panthers are 0-1-2-1 in their last four road games. Curtis Joseph will likely start again tonight though Manny Legace is ready to go. Henrik Zetterberg wants to play tonight but he said he probably wouldn't. He was scheduled to have X-rays today and the final decision was to be made after that. Henrik said yesterday "It depends on how the X ray looks and what (team orthopedist David) Collon says ... I don't want to be out six more weeks." He also said "The thing is, I don't know how it's supposed to feel, so it's hard for me to say if it's ready or not. I still feel it, but there's no pain." He is listed as questionable by the Free Press. UPDATE - 5:25 PM - Ken Daniels said on 94.7 WCSX today about 10 minutes ago that Henrik Zetterberg is not ready for tonight but that he should return to the ice for Friday's game. Steve Yzerman and Ray Whitney are both still day-to-day with groin injuries but should return by the end of the week. Tomas Holmstrom and Chris Chelios are getting closer to playing again. Holmstrom's shoulder is nearly healed and he should be back later this week. He said hitting will be the biggest test because he can skate and shoot now. With his style of play, he'll need to be able to hit if he wants to come back so until he can, we won't see him on the ice. Chelios tore his right MCL on December 8 and skated Sunday. However, he said "I'm not even close to playing," and said that hoped to be back in two weeks from when he was injured, which would mean the December 22nd game against the Blues. His response to the doctor's predictions was: "They say four -- three to four. But who knows?" The Wings haven't missed him too much, though, with Woolley, Schneider and Kronwall playing well in his absence. This is a good opportunity for the Wings to get a win. The Panthers are a young team with not very much experience and hopefully that will work to the Wings' advantage, as it should. Roberto Luongo is no push-over, however, and the Wings will have to be serious about scoring on him tonight, not lazy in their play as they sometimes are against lesser teams. The Panthers will have a lot of jump and the Wings will need to play a disciplined game. If they do their job, it should be no contest. News | Freep | ESPN


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