Saturday, January 03, 2004

GameDay: vs. Anaheim (13-16-4-5, 35) 7:30 EST

Tonight is the second of four meetings this season between these two teams. The Wings won the first game 7-2 at the Joe on December 3. The Wings have gone 10-3-2-1 over their previous 17 games and are on a 10-game home unbeaten streak. They are 15-3-1-0 at home this season. The Wings are coming off a 4-1 road win against the 'Canes last night and a 6-5 overtime win against the Thrashers on New Year's Eve. The player some were skeptical could replace Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Datsyuk, scored his 21st goal of the season last night. He leads the team in goals, assists and points, is second in NHL scoring behind Ilya Kovalchuck (46) with 45 points and third in goals scored behind Rick Nash (23) and Kovalchuck (22). Kris Draper scored his 15th and 16th goals Friday night and set a new career high. The Wings, whose offense was supposed to be less potent without Sergei, score an average of 3.32 goals a game (the highest in the league) and lead the league with 136 goals scored overall. They lead the Central Division by four points and the Western Conference by three. The Ducks are 6-9-2-0 in their last 17 games and will be playing the last game in a five-game road trip in which they went 2-3-0-0. They are 5-11-2-3 on the road this season and are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo last night. The player many in Detroit were sorry to see go, Sergei Fedorov, has just 13 goals, 26 points and is minus-10. The Ducks score an average of just 2.08 goals a game and have scored just 79 overall this season. They are last in a relatively weak Pacific Division by 9 points and are 5 points out of a playoff spot in the West. I expect Manny Legace to get the start tonight based on what Dave Lewis said on Thursday and the fact that Curtis Joseph started tonight. Lewis did say the final decision would be made today so we could see Joseph in net as well. This is a good opportunity for another win against an under-.500 team. The Wings need to build on their win last night in Carolina and not allow another lower-tier team get the best of them again. They made a statement on December 3 when they blew the Ducks out and they need to continue along that line tonight. I want to see another game like that, where the Wings demonstrate complete dominance over their opponent. Hopefully they still remember the embarrassment of being eliminated by the Ducks in the first round last year and the insult of one of their best players bolting to that same team. Get it done, guys. Freep | ESPN


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