Sunday, December 04, 2005

GameDay: vs. NY Islanders (12-12-1, 25 Pts) 5:00 ET

This afternoon is the only game the Wings will play against the Islanders this season. They only met once in 2003-2004 as well, with the Wings winning 6-0 on November 28, 2003. Steve Thomas (remember him?) had a two goals, Pavel Datsyuk had three assists and Manny Legace was in net for a 30-save shutout. This game will be the first against an Eastern Conference opponent this season for the Wings. Detroit is coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to Calgary Thursday night. The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Wings, who beat San Jose and LA to finish off a three game California road trip. They should have a bit of a boost after getting a visit from Jiri Fischer Saturday. Fischer, whose heart stopped during the November 21 game against the Predators, spent about 90 minutes with his teammates, according to the News. The paper reports he is in good spirits and is "cautiously optimistic about the future." (to use Mathieu Schneider's words) The paper also quotes Mike Babcock as saying, "His perspective was phenomenal. He said something like, 'How lucky am I that that (collapsing on the Wings bench) right then versus when I'm walking out of the building?' He had that second murmur, and (doctors) found positive things out of that that could lead (to a cause for the irregularities)." So, it sounds like things aren't as bleak as they seem. The Islanders have had a bit of a rough season so far, which isn't surprising given that they play in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. They had a short three-game win streak mid-November but that was halted in Tampa Bay on the 17th and since then, they have gone 2-2-1 in 5 games. They followed up their loss to the Lightning with a win over Florida on the 19th but dropped the next two, both at home, to Buffalo and Ottawa. On the 26th, they beat the Flyers 4-2 on the road but lost three days later at home to the same team 4-3. They are 7-7-0 on the road this season and will be facing their first Western Conference opponent in the Wings. The paper says Babcock is not fooled by their record and quotes him as saying, "They're good and talented. They're bigger (physically) than you think." According to the News, Babcock will not commit to a starting goalie for tonight's game. Jimmy Howard has started the past two games, stepping in for Chris Osgood who hasn't played since surrendering 6 goals to San Jose (a 7-6 win for the Wings) last Saturday. Manny Legace is still out with a knee sprain. Since Robert Lang is out with a groin injury, the Wings will call up Jiri Hudler from the AHL today, taking advantage of the spot in the lineup to test the young star at the NHL level once again. Hudler is having a great season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, notching 32 points in 21 games. Apparently, he will not play today but Babcock said, "I'm going to watch our team play and if someone's not going as good, he'll go in and take their spot." Expect Hudler to be in the lineup Tuesday against the Devils. After 27 games against Western Conference opponents, it will be nice to get some variety. I'm interested in finding out how the Wings do against the East. However, today might not be the day. It's finals week this week for me and I may not be able to watch the game. It all depends on how much I get done and how things shake out this afternoon.


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