Tuesday, January 03, 2006

GameDay: vs. Minnesota (18-17-4, 40 Pts) 7:00 ET

Tonight is the second of four games between these two teams this season. The Wings won their last meeting, 3-1 on November 11th. Brendan Shanahan, Jason Williams and Johan Franzen scored for Detroit, who notched their 15th win that night. The Wings are hot, having won their last five and eight of their last ten. Their winning streak began in Tampa Bay, where they won 6-3, on December 17th and continued with wins over Columbus (4-3 SO), Chicago (3-2 OT), Dallas (4-1) and Columbus again (5-2) to round out 2005. This game kicks off a huge month for the Wings, as IwoCPO of Abel to Yzerman pointed out yesterday. The Wings play 14 games in January, the majority of which are against playoff-bound teams. They will face Nashville three times and play three of the East's best teams in a very short span (four days). This will be the last "easy" week our guys will have for a while, with tonight's game and Thursday's meeting with the Blues. Minnesota are hot as well, with wins in six of their last eight. They had a three-game winning streak halted last Thursday when the lost 4-2 in Calgary but they rebounded Saturday with a 4-3 win over Vancouver. Manny Fernandez is among the mid-season contenders for the Vezina Trophy, posting a 2.05 GAA and a .930 save-percentage to go along with his 14 wins. Fernandez has been greatly helped by his teammates, who have allowed just 98 goals this season. Only Ottawa has given up fewer (88). The Wild penalty kill is an impressive 89.1%, which leads the league, having allowed just 23 power play goals this season. Chris Osgood will get another start tonight and will hopefully continue his stellar play. Don't expect a thriller tonight. The Wild still play the trap and will play a very tight game defensively. The Wings will have to counter with a tight defensive game of their own because Minnesota will capitalize on any mistakes. The last meeting between these two teams was not very exciting either but if the Wings can out-work the Wild as they did back in November, they should be able to start off January on the right foot.


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