Monday, December 08, 2003

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

Tonight is the second of four games between these two teams this season. The Wings won the first game 3-2 on the opening night of the season when Steve Yzerman scored with 1.7 seconds left in the game. The Kings have had a decent season so far despite key injuries to players such as Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison (neither of whom will play tonight; both out with concussions). Center Martin Straka, who they acquired from Pittsburgh on November 30 to pick up some of the slack on offense, has two goals in the past two games. They are coming off a 7-2 win over the Washington Capitals where they were down 2-0 early in the game and are 4-1-0 in the past five games. They lead the Sharks by one point for first place in the Pacific Division. The Wings have had several key injuries of their own but are 9-3-2 over their past 14 games. They gave up three unanswered goals in the process of losing to a rolling Leafs team 5-2 on Saturday but had a five game unbeaten streak going into that game. Dominik Hasek is expected to start tonight for the Wings. Steve Yzerman is not scheduled to play because of a groin injury suffered during the second period of Saturday's game. He will be evaluated today and whether he plays or not will be a game-time decision. For now he is listed as day-to-day. The Wings will fill his center spot between Brendan Shanahan and Boyd Devereaux with either Kris Draper or Mark Mowers. The other player will center the checking line. Ray Whitney is expected to play tonight and, depending on his health, could fill the empty spot at center according to associate coach Barry Smith. It doesn't sound to promising, though. Ray said "We'll wrap it up as tight as we can and play as good as possible." Maybe it would be better if he doesn't play. Don't want to risk re-injury. Henrik Zetterberg may be back fairly soon. He skated during the weekend and participated in Sunday's short workout. Apparently, he still has some pain because the bone has not healed completely, though he can skate. He wasn't sure whether he would participate in the pre-game skate today but he's going increase his workouts daily, as long as the pain continues to decrease. He said "...The first two times, it didn't feel good. But the last few times, it's felt better each time." The Wings are entering another busy stretch in the schedule, with four games in six days coming up and then five games in eight after that. They need to get their wins now while they have some kind of rest. These injuries will make it tough but the games coming up in all reality shouldn't be too tough (next five: Buffalo, Chicago, Washington, Florida). Tonight's a different story because the Kings are a good team. The Wings will need to play tight defensively and disciplined offensively. Hopefully Dominik's rust and the Wings' increased deficiency at center won't show too much. As long as the Wings can play without The Captain, they should be fine tonight. Should be a good game. Sources: Freep, News and ESPN


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