Wednesday, November 09, 2005

GameDay: vs. LA (10-5-0, 20 Pts) 7:30 ET

Tonight is the second of four games between the Wings and the Kings this season. Detroit won the first game 5-2 on 13. October and kicked off a nine-game win-streak that ended just last week. Brendan Shanahan, Kirk Maltby, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, and Jiri Fischer scored for the Wings that night.

The Wings had their nine-game win streak snapped by the Oilers last week and they went on to lose to the Coyotes on Saturday, 4-1. They rebounded against the worst team in the league on Sunday, however, beating the Blues 4-1. They remain undefeated (8-0) against Central Division opponents, having played them all except Nashville. They now kick of a tough 12-game run against Western Conference opponents that includes two three-game West Coast road trips. The Wings know this stretch of games is important and that it will be a good test for them, given the skepticism apparent around the league about their strength-of-schedule to this point. (News)

Before the Wings beat them, LA had won three in a row. They continued that trend after the Wings left LA and won another three before losing to Calgary on the 23rd. Since then, they have gone 4-2 and risen to the top of the Pacific Division, with a one point lead over Dallas, who they beat 6-3 on the 2nd. They then lost to Phoenix 4-0 last Thursday but they rebounded with a 3-2 overtime win at home against the Predators Saturday. Tonight's game kicks off a four-game road trip against Central Division opponents before a two-game homestand against the Canucks and Avs. UPDATE: TSN's preview for the game provides a better look at the Kings' fast start.

The papers are reporting that Manny Legace will be back in the lineup tonight and that there is a good chance he will also be on the ice. The News reports that he has recovered from his groin injury, which I can only assume is a typo because Manny has been out due to a sprained knee, which the Freep says is 95% healed. To make room on the roster for Legace's return, the Wings sent Jimmy Howard back down to Grand Rapids.

While Manny Legace may not have a groin injury, Jason Woolley certainly does. He has been placed on the injured reserve list and Brett Lebda has been brought up from the AHL to fill his spot. Because the Wings just sent down Howard (opening a spot in the roster for Lebda), they did not need to put Woolley on the IR but the Freep reports Holland just wants the paperwork done in case another situation arises and they need another spot for a call-up. Though Lebda gives the Wings 7 healthy defensemen, Babcock would not commit to playing him tonight, telling the Freep, "I think so, at this point. At this time, he's not."

Former Red Wing Luc Robitaille will not be in the lineup for LA tonight. He has a broken leg and will miss two months.

The Wings handled the Kings pretty easily the first time around but tonight will be a little different. The Wings' last two losses exposed some weaknesses that were easily ignored against lesser opponents and though they won on Sunday, tonight will be a good indication of whether those issues have been addressed. The Blues have been a good test in the past but they aren't any more, not at the moment, anyway. The Kings will be a bit tougher so hopefully the Wings are ready.


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