Sunday, March 14, 2004

GameDay: vs. Nashville (33-26-10-2, 78) 7:00 EST

This is the sixth and final match between the Wings and Predators this season. The season series is 3-2 Nashville. The Wings lost the first three decisions, and have won the last two, 6-0 January 5 and 4-1 February 3. The Wings need to win this game to even up the season series and not allow division rival Nashville Preds to get the bragging rights. Pride should be enough for the Wings to be inspired, and it doesn't hurt that the game is in the Joe. Cujo will get the start. The Wings are coming off a 3-0 shutout win against the road-struggling Dallas Stars yesterday afternoon, with Manny Legace standing on his head at many times to keep the Wings in the lead. The Stars outshot the Wings 31-21, and, most notably, had an offensive surge in the third that Manny held back. The Wings are unbeaten in their last seven games, going 6-0-1. In the standings, the Wings lead the Western Conference with 94 points, and only trail Tampa Bay, who have 95 points, in the league. But the Wings have 70 games played to the Lightnings' 72, so two games in hand may make the difference in the Presidents' Trophy race. The Predators are coming off a 4-4 tie versus the Flames last night. The win placed them at 78 points and tied with St Louis in virtually every category, including games-played (71), wins (33), losses (26), ties (10), overtime losses (2), points (78), and season series (2-2-1). It comes down to goals for, and Nashville leads that category with 187 to the Blues' 167. So the Preds are currently a seventh seed and the Blues are eighth. As for injuries, the Detroit Sports Report reported last night that Jason Woolley may have a fractured vertebrae, meaning he would likely be done for rest of the regular season and playoffs. For a guy as solid as he is on defense, Woolley will be sorely missed if he is unable to join the Wings' Cup run. My hopes are that Cujo really shows up strong in tonight's game, since the Predators like to sit back and wait for the opposition's mistakes. They're going to dump the puck, smile as the play is clogged up in the neutral zone, and hope that they can capitalize on a few Wings' mistakes. These type of teams bank on frustrating the opposition into not focusing on the fundamentals, and that's where the Wings have had trouble with the Preds in the past. So, the bottom line is, Cujo is going to have to be solid when the Preds get their scoring chances. Coach's Corner: Don Cherry's long-awaited monologue on the Bertuzzi incident finally happened. His partner, Ron MacLean, didn't even try to cut in. After not being able to focus because he can't "work without the red light on" on the camera, Don started his passionate speech. He started by saying that, with the score 4-0 Avs, Bertuzzi and May were on the ice but Worrell wasn't. Cherry said that Granato should not have benched Moore ("that'd be throwing in the towel"), but Worrell should've been on the ice with Moore, because you "can feel it 3000 miles away" that something is going to happen. He argued that Worrell would've pushed Bertuzzi away from following Moore the entire shift before pummeling him. He concluded that Granato did not know how to handle tough guys. Then he went on a tirade defending Bertuzzi to some extent. Cherry said he "feels sorry for" Bertuzzi. He said that the media made fun of Bertuzzi's tears (those weren't "crocodile tears"). Cherry said he knew the lengthy suspension was coming, but criticized the $250,000 fine because they didn't say what it was for. He said that there will be lawsuits from Burke, Crawford, and Bertuzzi because of it. Cherry criticized how the media was attacking hockey because of the incident. Further, he felt he was taking the blame because of his previous Coach's Corner on February 21. In that show, Don Cherry had said that the Moore hit on Naslund was not a cheap shot, but that the Canucks had to do something about it. He said that they should not do anything premeditated. But he certainly gave his support for fighting, not a surprising revelation. With a minute left in the show, Cherry gave some thoughts for the "kids": "Look should never ever do anything like this. Todd was wrong, he knows it's wrong. If you have a beef with somebody, and you want to do something, it's face to face, face to face, and you settle it that way. You do suckerpunch ever from behind, you got a beef, it's face to face, that's the Canadian way." Barry Melrose: Melrose also voiced similar views to Cherry on how the media is using this incident to attack hockey. He argued that things happen in other sports, and the media often calls it the toughness of the game. He cited pitchers beaning batters in baseball, spearing hits in football, and drivers deliberately bumping their opponent's cars in Nascar. Overtime Happenings: The Boston Bruins tied the NHL record for the most overtimes in one season in their 3-2 win over Sabres yesterday. It was their 28th overtime game of the season. The Edmonton Oilers have played an NHL record seven straight overtime games, their last being a 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Friday. The previous record was five, done eight times by seven teams. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks lead the league with overtime losses with eight. Dallas has the least with zero. The Wings have two.


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