Friday, November 11, 2005

GameDay: vs. Minnesota (8-7-2, 18 Pts) 7:30 ET

Tonight is the first of four games between the Wings and the Wild this season. Detroit won the 2003-2004 season series at 2-0-2. In their last meeting on March 29, 2004, the Wings won 5-3. Ex-Wing Ray Whitney had two assists, and Brendan Shanahan had a goal and an assist. The Wings are on a two-game win streak, and are 8-2 in their last ten games. The Wings lead the Central Divison and NHL with 29 points. Nashville trails in the division with 23 points, while Montreal comes closest league-wide at 26 points. In their last game, the Wings beat the Kings 5-4 (OT), with Robert Lang scoring the winner less than two minutes into overtime. Manny Legace had 37 saves on 41 shots, but was noticeably shaky in the third period, allowing three fairly weak goals. But since it was his first game back after missing three with a sprained knee, it was an ok return. Tomas Holmstrom has seven goals in his last four games, for a season total of 8 goals. His career best is 20 goals in 2002-2003. Other Wings on a tear include Pavel Datsyuk (17 points in 10 games, a point in each), Jason Williams (19 points in 17 games with his league minimum salary), Henrik Zetterberg (18 points in 17 games), and Brendan Shanahan (16 points in 17 games). Manny Legace will likely get the start for the Wings. The Wild are struggling at 4-5-1 in their last ten games. In their last game, the Wild lost 4-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Wild outshot the Coyotes 28-18, but the story was Roloson struggling. He allowed three goals on only seven shots in the first 13 minutes of the first, before getting pulled for Fernandez. The Wild were unable to recover, and were hurt by only going 1-7 on the man advantage. On the season, the Wild are 19.3% on the PP (12th in NHL). I would expect Fernandez to get the start tonight after Roloson's bad outing last game. An interesting note on the special teams matchup. The Wings lead the league on the power play at 25.2%, but are 1/16 over their last three games. The Wild lead the league on the penalty kill, boasting a 92.1% efficiency, allowing only one goal in their last 20 short-handed situations. To further put the odds against the Wings scoring on the power play, Minnesota has only given up four power play goals in 48 chances while on the road. The Wings are 7-2-1 at home, while the Wild are 3-4-2 on the road. So the Wilds' great penalty kill on the road hasn't translated to as many wins as you'd think. The Wings lead the league in scoring with 68 goals for, and the Wild only have 47 goals for through 17 games.


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