Saturday, January 31, 2004

GameDay: vs. Carolina (17-24-9-2, 45) 7:00 EST

Tonight is the second of two games this season between these two teams. The first game ended in a 4-1 win for the Wings on January 2nd in Carolina. The Wings bounced back after a 1-2-2 road trip with a good 5-2 win over the Devils at home Thursday night and are now 3-3-3-1 in their previous 10 games. They got a goal from Brett Hull, just his second in 24 games and an empty netter from Kris Draper who had gone cold after rocketing to 19 goals, four more than his career high of 15. Tomas Holmstrom scored his second in 10 games on the power play and Mathieu Schneider continued his great play with yet another goal. They went 2-for-2 on the power play after going 2-for-24 in their previous six games and were perfect on the penalty kill. The Wings are 19-4-2-0 at home this season and 8-6-0-1 against Eastern Conference teams. The Wings score an average of 3.21 goals a game, second in the league, and allow an average of 2.34 which is 13th. Their power play is 5th in the league at 19.2% and their penalty killing is 8th at 85.4%. Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings' highest scoring player, has 50 points. The Hurricanes are 3-6-1 in their previous ten games. The are coming off a 5-4 loss to the Caps on Thursday after shutting out Toronto 2-0 on Tuesday. They are on a trend where they win one game and then lose two (one which will hopefully continue tonight). They are just 7-12-3-1 on the road this year and 4-5-0-2 against Western Conference teams. They have a 1.88 goals scored average, which is dead last in the league and a 2.46 goals against average which is just 16th. They are 29th in the league on the power play at 11.2% and 25th on the penalty kill at 81.8%. Jeff O'Neill, their highest scoring player, has 27 points. Curtis Joseph should get the start tonight again. Steve Thomas did not practice yesterday because of a ribs injury suffered during Thursday's game and probably will not be ready to go tonight. Darren McCarty participated in another full practice and there is apparently a small chance that he could dress for the first time since November 8th. That would be a great thing to see. The Wings need to build off Thursday's game with another win tonight. The 'Canes are a struggling team and the Wings should be able to handle them fairly easily. We know they can play well against top teams but throughout the season, they have been beaten by lesser teams because they haven't taken them seriously. They need to take the Hurricanes seriously because they've shown they can beat anybody. If the Wings play their "A" game, tonight shouldn't be too tough a game for them. But if they come out thinking they'll roll over Carolina, it will be a long night. Freep ESPN


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