Game No. 6: A real test

That’s two wins in a row now, and the team, while not necessarily spectacular, has at least played admirably. But there are a lot of things you could call Edmonton and Nashville, and "as good as the Red Wings" isn’t one of ’em.

This is, in the humble chronicler’s estimation, the Flames’ first opponent of the year who would qualify as 2 legit 2 quit, with all due respect to the noted 2009-10 playoff team Los Angeles Kings. Make no mistake, this year the Central is the Wings’ to lose, and with a full year of Jimmy Howard in net, they’re far more likely to not lose as a result of spotty goaltending most nights.

It’s interesting to note that, in Brendan Mikkelson’s first game with the team, he’ll be a healthy scratch against a team that has the offensive ability — particularly with a returning Johan Franzen (how do you only miss ONE game with a concussion?) — to eviscerate a Flames defense that I can’t imagine anyone is too happy with. Of course, that presupposes that the Detroit attack will get its legs back under it starting tonight, which of course isn’t a guarantee. The Wings have only scored three goals in their last two games, those against Dallas and Phoenix on the road. But at home? Well, that’s a different story. Detroit put four past the Ducks, though who isn’t these days, and Avalanche in their only two games at the Joe.

But I was checking the stats and noticed something odd, even beyond these two teams having given up the same number of goals per game. It’s a fairly well-publicized fact that Todd Bertuzzi leads the team in scoring through five games against all probability, much like Brendan Morrison does for Calgary, but Henrik Zetterberg, not unlike our dear Mr. Iginla up until Saturday, has yet to break his duck this season. Five games, four assists, and not one goal. But he’s not the only one.

Of Detroit’s 14 goals so far this year, 10 have been scored by four players. Among notable forwards, Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler are all without a goal. Holmstrom, in fact, doesn’t even have a point. It’s very odd to see something like that.

I can’t remember where I read it, but there’s some eminently provable and widely accepted mathematical theory on hockey which states that every shot on goal that doesn’t go in makes the next one statistically more likely to do so. By that logic, Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom, with 16 and 15 shots this season, respectively, are certainly due.

One suspects that this one will come down to Calgary’s ability to stifle Detroit’s offense, because if they try to go punch for punch, they’re gonna get KOed pretty soon after the opening bell.