Monday, December 12, 2005

GameDay: vs. Pittsburgh (8-15-6, 22 Pts) 7:00 ET

Tonight is the one and only game between these two teams this season. The Pens won the 2003-2004 season series 1-0 with a 4-3 win on October 18, 2003. The Wings lead 3-1 at one point but the Pens came back to give Marc-Andre Fleury his first NHL win. The Wings are 5-3-o in their last eight, winning their last two, 5-2 over New Jersey last Tuesday and 4-3 over Washington on Friday. Detroit is the second-highest scoring team in the League, thanks to such regulars as Pavel Datsyuk (10G, 22A), Henrik Zetterberg (13G, 17A) and Brendan Shanahan (17G, 10A) as well some surprises such as Jason Williams (9G, 22A) and Mikael Samuelsson (12G, 9A). The team as a whole has put up 112 goals, allowing 78 in the meantime. A major factor in the Wings' offensive success has been their power play, which leads the league at 25.8%. Immediately following tonight's game, the Wings will leave for Atlanta, where they will kick off a three-game Southwest Division road trip by playing the Thrashers tomorrow night. The Wings are 10-5-1 at home so far this season. The Pens have had a rough season, despite having the most highly touted rookie and what should be a pretty decent roster. It took them nine games to get a win (0-4-5 start) and for much of November, it was on again, off again for this once-proud franchise. They halted a six-game skid with a win Saturday at home against Colorado and will wrap up their Western Conference series against the Blues tomorrow night in St. Louis. Pittsburgh has allowed the most goals of any team in the league so far (119) and scored among the fewest (81), despite an offense that boasts Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Zigmund Palfy, Mark Recchi and John LeClair. However, Palfy, LeClair and Lemieux have missed time due to various injuries and medical conditions so maybe it's not so surprising after all. Crosby has 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points but is minus-9 so far and is among the team leaders in penalty minutes with 38. With the Pens' penalty kill at 79.1% (26th in the league), they could probably do with a lot less of Sidney in the box. Pittsburgh is 4-7-3 on the road this season. Given Mike Babcock's policy of rewarding winning goaltenders with playing time, I expect Chris Osgood to make his third consecutive start tonight. The papers report that Manny Legace will not return until he is fully healthy, unlike the last time. Apparently, he was only 15% when he came back from his first knee injury, which took place on November 1st. The papers say he'll face some shots in practice this week but has no idea when he'll be back. (Freep and News) I'm looking forward to finally seeing Sidney Crosby play and while I hope the Wings shut him down, I'd like to see some reason to believe all the hype. Be sure to catch Jiri Fischer's press conference at 4:00 PM ET on Fox Sports Net as well as the Darren McCarty special on OLN before the game tonight. Remember the puck drops at 7:00, not 7:30, as some schedules have it.


At 12/12/2005 02:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I really love your blog. As a transplanted Wings fan in Wisconsin, it's nice to connect this way!!

Do you have any new 411 on the Dish Network/Comcast dispute that is keeping me from watching the Wings tonight? VERY dissapointing that I have NHL Center Ice and still can't see it...

At 12/12/2005 10:05:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Looks like you can catch the game on tape delay at 11:00 if you have Comcast, according to Kukla's Korner.


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