Tuesday, February 24, 2004

GameDay: vs. Vancouver (32-19-7-4, 75) 10:00 EST

After a good effort from Marc Lamothe last night in Edmonton, Manny Legace will return to net for his sixth start in seven games at the GM Place in Vancouver. This is the second of back-to-back games on the Wings' short West trip. The Wings have a commanding lead in the Central Division, with Nashville and St Louis trailing by 12 and 14 points, respectively. The Wings are 7-1-2-0 in their last ten games, and are tied for first the in the league with Ottawa at 81 points. Vancouver is struggling as of late. The Canucks trail their rival Avalanche in the Northwest by 5 points, and have been without their captain and leading scorer Markus Naslund for the past week after a crushing open-ice check by the Avs' Steve Moore. It left Canucks coach Marc Crawford livid in the post-game interviews:
"He got a pretty nasty hit. It could have been an obstruction call, it could have been an elbow, but instead they call absolutely nothing. It mystifies me why this happens in this league. They talk about players not having respect for players. How about the officials? Should they not have respect for the leading scorer in the league? It was a cheap shot by a young kid on a captain, and we get no call. That's ridiculous."
Since the 1-0 win over the Avs last Monday that left Naslund hospitalized, the Canucks have lost two straight against Minnesota 6-2 Thursday and Edmonton 4-3 OT Saturday. The Canucks are currently the fourth seed in the West, and, if the playoffs started today, would be facing the red hot Dallas Stars in the first round. The Canucks are 3-5-0-2 in their last ten games. Public enemy #1 tonight is Vancouver defenseman Bryan Allen, who is responsible for two costly injuries on the Wings. Thursday October 16, the third game of the Wings' season, Allen got into a minor collision with Derian Hatcher that left the Wings' newly signed defenseman out up until now with a torn ACL. And on Monday November 3, he broke Henrik Zetterberg's leg on a dirty slash. Allen, who had no goal or assist that night, was voted one of the three stars of the game. So the same Vancouver Canuck people who cry out in misery in the wake of Naslund's injury probably voted blood-hungry Allen in as one of the stars of the game for breaking the opposition's leg. So I have no sympathy for those people. I look for some payback in this Tuesday night matchup against the Canucks. Hopefully the Wings have their legs after last night. The Edmonton game was boring when it came to offense, and the Wings really had to skate hard just to get a few shots on net.


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