Wednesday, November 23, 2005

GameDay: vs. Colorado (11-7-0, 22 Pts) 7:30 ET

Tonight is the first of four games this season between these two old rivals. The Wings won the last time these two teams met, 2-0 on March 7, 2004. They also won the 03-04 season series three games to one. The Wings have lost four in a row, not including the Nashville game which was postponed Monday night. Three of those losses came on a short Western Canada road trip while their most recent loss came against the Blues on Saturday, a 3-2 decision. This four game skid follows a three-game win streak in which they beat St. Louis, LA and Minnesota. They were trailing 1-0 to the Predators on Monday night before Jiri Fischer's seizure caused the game to be canceled. There is still debate on whether the game will be replayed in its entirety or whether they will start with 7:30 remaining in the 1st period. This game is the last of a two-game homestand that will be followed by a trip to play the three California teams starting Friday in Anaheim and ending Monday in LA. They will play San Jose on Saturday. The Avs are not the dominating team they once were, having lost two important players because of the salary cap: Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote. They still have highly skilled players such as Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, however, and can still bite. After going 1-1 in the first two games of November, the Avs have won a pair, lost a pair, won a pair, and, most recently, lost a pair. They are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary on Monday. This game kicks off a two-game road trip that will end in Columbus on Friday. Manny Legace will get the start for the Wings and David Aebischer should be in net for the Avs. The Wings will be playing their first game since seeing their teammate, Jiri Fischer, almost die Monday night and both papers predictably have a lot to say on it. The News' Bob Wojnowski and the Freep's Mitch Albom point out that Fischer will eventually have think about whether or not he is still capable of playing, with Wojnowski ending his piece on a sickly ironic note:
"We're also hopeful, hopeful this doesn't become a sad twist to the old question. How does an athlete know when he must go? Usually, his heart will tell him."
The team doctor told the News that he will not speculate on the subject of Jiri's career, saying it's too soon after it happened to be thinking along those lines. The Freep's Shawn Windsor has more. The News' Bob Parker believes the Wings will bounce back and John Niyo reports on the beginning of the process with practice yesterday. Helene St. James had a talk with Manny Legace and got his reaction to seeing what happened to Jiri. She also talked to the Wings about tonight's game in light of Monday's events. Finally, Angelique S. Chengelis has more on the device that saved Fischer's life. Knowing Jiri is okay means the Wings are in a much better position to perform tonight against the Avalanche. They are obviously very shaken by what happened and even though they may not get Jiri back, they can at least rest in the fact that he is alive. It will be an emotional game, to be sure, tonight. They owe it to Jiri to come out playing hard and I think they will. They've dedicated seasons to injured teammates before and I expect them to do the same this time around. Update (Christy): Fischer was released from the hospital today and is home, resting comfortably. He has also been placed on IR (injured reserved). Update (Matt): I forgot to mention this in the original post: defenseman Kyle Quincey was called up from Grand Rapids to fill Jiri's spot. Red Wings Central, the source for information on players in the Wings' system, has a report on him here.


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