Gameday Preview: Detroit Red Wings

The puck rolls across the jersey of Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and into the net on a goal by Detroit Red Wings Johan Franzen during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Detroit, Michigan October 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITEDSTATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The last time these two teams met, the script went about how we predicted: Calgary’s depth played well enough to make things interesting but in the end the Wings top-end talent prevailed. What wasn’t expected, however, was just how vulnerable the Wings bottom-end would be. That’s a weakness the Flames will likely hope to exploit in the second meeting tonight.

Calgary outplayed Detroit in the first period previously, spurred by the utter dominance of the Glencross-Backlund-Morrison trio. The rookie scored his first (and only two) goals of the season and the three of them probably could have had more besides.

While we’ve become used to the Flames third line creating havoc over the last year or three, it was somewhat eye-opening to see just how soft Detroit’s soft underbelly is. Daniel Cleary has been a quality player since he revived his career in the motor city and the return of Jiri Hudler was supposed to add another weapon to an already stocked arsenal, but things haven’t turned out for whatever reason. Cleary, Hudler and Modano have all struggled relative to their teammates, despite being fairly sheltered. In the case of Modano and Hudler, both guys have a zone start at about 60% thus far and yet are underwater in terms of possession. That’s remarkably bad given the fact that Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Franzen do all of the heavy lifting on the club.

DALLAS - OCTOBER 14: Mike Modano  and Jiri Hudler  of the Detroit Red Wings walk out to the ice before the third period against the Dallas Stars on October 14, 2010 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Stars defeated the Detroit Red Wins 4-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

What’s more, the Wings have a fairly suspect bottom defensive pairing in Jakub Kindl and Doug Janik. The former is a 23-year old rookie still trying to compete at the NHL level while the latter is mostly an AHL journeyman who has bounced around the league for the last decade or so. Kindl in particular is getting hammered, as sometimes happens to guys taking their first steps in this league.

In order to exploit these issues, the Flames will need their top-end guys to saw things off with the big guns at the other end. It’s a tall order, particularly with the Red Wings top-six depth: Detroit’s aforementioned "big three" are some of the best forwards in the league and it means Babcock can send two hard minutes lines over the boards on any given night. Which is the reason, despite their underwhelming bottom-six, the Red Wings continue to be one of the best in Western Conference (it also helps that Lidstrom is apparently immortal).

In short, the Wings are excellent but there’s a chink in the armor. If the likes of Iginla and Jokinen can fend of Datsyuk et al, Calgary has a good chance to prevail.

  • Datsyuk scares me.

    I’ve noticed a trend of Kipper having a knockout game after getting knocked out the game before, so hopefully that gives the Flames a boost tonight, but I would look to see some secondary scoring from Bourque/Hagman tonight, and another point from Morrison. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that Jackman will be on the boxscore tonight as well.

    Otherwise this is most likely a blowout.

  • BobB

    If the likes of Iginla and Jokinen can fend of Datsyuk et al, Calgary has a good chance to prevail.

    True, but just reading it makes me hang my head and think…”Oh crap.”

    • Heh. Me too.

      Word is Sutter has Glencross skating with Conroy and Jackman today. Now, this could be a Glencross slap down for that penalty last game and the 4th line will indeed get another 8 minutes tonight.

      For me personally, that’s a line I would try to feed to the wolves tonight in effort to make things easier on everyone else. I doubt it’ll happen, but I guess we’ll see.

      • Kinda surprised that Moss is going to start out on a line that will be expected to log at least middling minutes. I’d have thought that he’d start out with Conroy and Jackman until we know that he has his game legs back.

        Disappointed to see Glencross seemingly in the dog house… prior game deadheaded penalty aside he’s been probably our best overall forward.

          • PrairieStew

            You really think Backlund’s going to have a different role tonight? Are you thinking BBM will be the tough minute unit? Regardless, if Moss is able to play at full capacity and is as willing to continue to be the garbage collecting front-of-net guy I could see that line working out in the O-zone.

            At any rate the keys to the game are the same as last time and always. Play the wings top 6 to a draw at EV and let the lower half of the line-up make up the winning difference, that and stay out of the sin bin.

  • BobB

    It seems to me that Brent may be smarter than we give him credit for.





    Oh Red Wings fans, please don’t laugh in my face for saying this if you win 6-0, but is it possible that Brent is just going for balanced lines, protecting the three exploitable players, and trying to…gulp…”out depth” the Wings?

    Um.. 2-1 Flames..please?