Tonight is the fifth of eight games the Wings will play against the Jackets this season. They are 4-0 against them so far: 6-0
October 20th, 6-2
October 24th, 4-3 (SO)
December 20th and 5-2
December 31st. To this point, the "Central Division rivalry" the NHL has falsely attempted to create has been joke.
The Wings have won their last two, each of which were over a couple of the league's top teams, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. They hosted the Flyers last Thursday and played a close game until the third period, when Mike Babcock's new scoring line, Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Shanahan, exploded with nine points. The final score was 6-3
and five of those goals came in the final 20 minutes of play. On Saturday, they faced the New York Rangers, again at home. This time the score was 4-3
but only because rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head. The game wrapped up the Wings' season series with Eastern Conference teams.
The Blue Jackets have also won their last two games, the most recent of which was over the Rangers. They traveled to Florida for a game Saturday and came away with a 5-4 overtime victory. Then they went home to host the Rangers and ended up winning 4-3. This game kicks off another round of Central Division matchups for the Blue Jackets, who will face the Blues at home Friday before heading to Nashville to play the Predators on Saturday.
Mike Babcock has already stated that Chris Osgood will start tonight. Ansar Khan wrote Monday
that this game is an important one for Osgood, who will have to adjust to playing sporadically after playing 60+ games a season his whole career.
Henrik Zetterberg missed practice with a sore hip and may not play tonight, if there has been no improvement. Babcock told the papers he doesn't want to take any chances.
I'll wrap this up with a quote from Abel to Yzerman
As we've discussed here, January's schedule is most likely the Wings toughest. This has been one game circled with gimme written next to it. And we all know what that means.
Yes, we do. The Wings have a curious way of losing "gimme" games. Hopefully tonight is not such a night.
UPDATE (3:57 ET): More from Ansar Khan
Zetterberg out, Schneider doubtful
The Red Wings will likely be missing two key players against Columbus tonight. Henrik Zetterberg tried skating Wednesday morning at Nationwide Arena but left the ice after five minutes because of a sore hip. Mathieu Schneider (flu) did not skate. Coach Mike Babcock said Zetterberg won't play, as a precaution, and he didn't think Schneider would be ready, either. Mark Mowers and Jamie Rivers will be inserted into the lineup.
Good thing it's just the Blue Jackets, eh? (don't make me eat my words, guys)
, Khan's blog beats the heck out of anything the Freep or News have when it comes to timliness of reporting. It's the kind of thing I've wanted for years as a Wings fan.
UPDATE (4:23 ET):
Columbus has activated defenseman Adam Foote
, who missed the past nine games with a hip injury. I totally missed the fact that he was even out. *Woosh!* Sorry. Expect him to be in the lineup tonight.
UPDATE (7:00 ET):
They just said on the FSN broadcast that Schneider will play since, apparently, he feels well enough.