Thursday, October 27, 2005

GameDay: vs. Chicago (3-6-0, 9 Pts) 7:30 ET

Detroit/Chicago mini-series: Game 1

Tonight is the first of eight games the Wings will play against their old Original Six rivals this season and the first of a home-away-home series that will end 01. November. Detroit won the 03-04 season series 4-2 and won the last meeting between the two teams: 4-2 on 14. January 2004 at the Joe.

The Wings are riding a 6-game win streak and are having the best start of the franchise's history (9-1-0). Their last two games were in Columbus, where they outscored the Blue Jacket 12-2 and pulled ahead in the league standings. The Wings are 4-1-0 at home this season, their only loss coming from Vancouver on the 10th. They are the highest scoring team in the NHL, with 42 goals and have been very successful defensively, giving up fewer goals (19) than every team except Ottawa (14). Their success defensively has been due, in large part, to the performance of goalie Manny Legace, who has started in all 10 games and posted some very good numbers (1.79 GAA and .927 SV%). No goalie in Red Wings history has won more games in October and, with a win tonight or Saturday in Chicago, he will enter the NHL record books as the goalie with the most wins in the first month of the season.

The Blackhawks have had a bit of a rough season so far. They've not won twice in a row yet but have dropped two games in a row twice already. They are in danger of doing so again tonight, having lost to the Predators 5-3 on Tuesday in Nashville. Their road record this season is the inverse of the Wings' (1-4-0) and that is something they'll need to work on because they have an inordinate number of away-games coming up (15 of their next 21). They have lost four straight in Detroit, however, so tonight may not be the night. The Hawks are in 20th place in goals-for (27) as well as goals-allowed (34), despite having signed All-Star goalie Nikolai Khabibulin this past off-season. Khabibulin hasn't put up the kind of numbers Chicago was expecting from a Stanley Cup-winning goalie, with just three wins, a 3.76 GAA and a .843 SV% but he doesn't have the supporting cast he had in Tampa Bay so perhaps that is to be expected.

Manny Legace will continue his string of starts, with Chris Osgood backing him up. Khabibulin should get the start for the Hawks.

Steve Yzerman is slated to return to the ice tonight and will likely play with the so-called "Visor Line" with Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper (both of whom wear visors). (Freep)

Jason Woolley will not return, the News reports. He's out with a groin injury and has missed one game already because of it. Jamie Rivers will again play in his place.

Former-Wing and ex-fan favorite Martin Lapointe will make a return to the Joe tonight. He left Boston this past summer and signed with the Hawks. He has just 1 goal in 9 games but still seems to be riding the wave generated by that one successful season here in Detroit. The NHL's GMs still haven't gotten it yet: he's not worth the money.

Although the idea of three straight games against the Hawks doesn't excite many people, don't expect all three games to be extremely boring. Chicago may be a shadow of its former self but it is still an Original Six team and those teams generally step it up to play the Wings. Still, it won't be the Stanley Cup Finals so don't expect it to be that either. Hopefully the Wings can take care of business and come out on top in this little mini-series. Just because the Preds have finally lost (but they still got a point, as a reader has pointed out), doesn't mean it's time to slack off. Another test of their focus.

Admin. note:
Because we are three busy college students, I've added a feature that allows us to point you guys to interesting articles and weblog posts without requiring a full-length (and time-consuming) post. So if you see a red headline followed by a one-line description in italics, that's a link we found worth reading but didn't have time to post fully on.


At 10/27/2005 07:42:00 PM, Blogger JasonSpaceman said...

You can expect a dirty, physical game from the Hawks. Their goal when they came into Nashville the other night was simply to bang us up as much as possible. There were almost 150 total penalty minutes in that game. Trent Yawney doesn't seem to have a problem sending the goon squad out when the team faces a tough opponent.

At 10/27/2005 07:43:00 PM, Blogger JasonSpaceman said...

Oh - and count on some easy goals, too, if the "Bulin Wall" is in the same shape as the other night vs. NAS. That's definitely not what I expect a $7 million goalie to look like.


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