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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 10:48 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks-Red Wings

DETROIT -- Detroit will start journeyman backup Joey MacDonald for a seventh straight time, while starting goalie Jimmy Howard takes the added time to continue healing up a broken finger that's kept him out since injuring it Feb. 2 at Vancouver.

Red Wings star center Pavel Datsyuk is expected to play against the Shark after having a slight sore throat on Saturday and not practicing outdoors with the rest of the team at Clark Park on the city's West side in front of an estimated 2,000 fans.

Detroit will also be without forward Danny Cleary at least one more game with knee soreness, as he hopes to return to the lineup on Tuesday in Chicago. San Jose will be without defenseman Douglas Murray, who's been diagnosed with a broken Adam's Apple after a puck hit him in the throat last week in Tampa Bay.

Here is how the Sharks and Red Wings might line up to start Sunday's game.

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Jamie McGinn - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Benn Ferriero

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Colin White - Brent Burns
Jim Vandermeer - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

RED WINGS

Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Valtteri Filppula - Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Commodore

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin

Note: The top two lines looked this way for most of the third period in Friday's 2-1 victory against the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena. Datsyuk didn't skate with the rest of the team at Saturday's practice, so the forward lines weren't what they'll be to start out against the Sharks on Sunday. If Babcock goes back to the line combinations he's used most of the season, he will split up Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and put the Swedish star forward at center of the second line while bumping up power forward Johan Franzen to the top line -- and likely flip-flopping Bertuzzi and Hudler at right wing on the top two units.
Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 10:46 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Could Sharks snap the Wings' record home streak?

DETROIT -- Based on the recent past, it probably isn't just a coincidence the Detroit Red Wings have rattled off an NHL record 22 straight home victories without once facing the San Jose Sharks.

Not only have the Sharks knocked the Red Wings from the playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals the past two seasons, but San Jose has also won five straight regular-season games against Detroit regardless of location.

That includes a 4-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 28, which still stands as one of just two regulation losses for the Red Wings on their home ice this season. Think there isn't some extra importance being placed on the Sharks' second visit to the Motor City by Detroit on Sunday (12:30 p.m., NBC)?

"They've beat us every time we played them this year," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It must be time to say, 'Enough's enough.' We got to do something about that. They're a good team. They're on a long road trip. We've played well at home. They should throw the puck to the net a lot, got big forwards, they're active on the back end, so it should be a fun game."

San Jose expects nothing less.

"They've definitely won some games here at home 3-2 or 2-1, so they've found ways to win," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said after a practice on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. "I expect a tight game, but it's important for us to have a good start."

When did the Sharks start to take notice of the Wings' impressive home winning streak?

"I think when they got around 16 or 17 wins and got closer to breaking the [old record of 20]," Clowe said. "There were games in there where they just won by a goal or won in a shootout, so they were finding ways to win. I expect them to be fired up for us. We've played them a couple times and beat them, so they'll be ready. But we've got to get our own streak going here."

Antti Niemi will likely be in goal to start for the Sharks, who've lost two straight games and find themselves looking for a turnaround game in the middle of a brutal nine-game road trip. Niemi hasn't been on top of his game of late, but coming to Detroit always seems to cure whatever ails him.'

The Finnish goalie has played well inside Joe Louis Arena since his days playing with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"We've been able to play some better games here," Niemi said. "That's something that gives us extra confidence, for sure. I've felt good playing here so far. I think playing a top team, you don't need to dig deep to get the motivation when you play these guys."

Still, Detroit's streak can't be overlooked.

"That's unbelievable," Niemi said. "You would think you would have some bad bounces, and it would be almost impossible to do. It's hard to win a couple of back-to-back games, even at home. Doing it that many times? It's huge."
Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 5:03 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings will ride hot hand in MacDonald on Sunday

DETROIT – Mike Babcock has decided to ride the hot hand with his goalie situation, which means journeyman backup Joey MacDonald will get his seventh straight start for the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

MacDonald will face the San Jose Sharks, who’ve beaten the Red Wings in five straight regular-season games dating back to last season. San Jose hopes to get back to winning itself, but also to end Detroit’s NHL record 22-game home winning streak – which was extended in dramatic fashion Friday night by Pavel Datsyuk’s game-winning goal that beat the Nashville Predators with just 5.8 seconds left in regulation.

“I get the opportunity again, against a great hockey team again,” said MacDonald, who was recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League after starter Jimmy Howard broke his finger Feb. 2 against Vancouver. “We’ll just see if we can keep it rolling. It feels great the coaching staff has the confidence in me to throw me out there again against another great hockey team. I’ve just got to keep building on [five straight wins] and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Howard was originally hoping to return Friday night against the Predators, then set his sights on Sunday’s game against San Jose. Now, he’s slated to start on Tuesday in Chicago, which will be his first game in 19 days.

“That's the game plan now,” said Howard, who opted to stay at Joe Louis Arena and workout on Saturday afternoon rather than attending Detroit’s outdoor practice at Clark Park on the city’s West side. “Joey's doing a great job. We'll let my finger heal up here for a couple more days. It's getting better. The x-rays we had last week are showing improvements, the bone is healing. Hopefully it gets better.”

Datsyuk also missed Detroit’s outdoor skate with what the team said was a slight sore throat and went through the workout back at Joe Louis Arena with Howard and injured forward Patrick Eaves (concussion) – who didn’t wear full equipment, but took shots on Howard.

San Jose practiced at The Joe on Saturday afternoon and is expected to start goalie Antti Niemi – who usually plays well in Detroit – on Sunday, despite some recent struggles to stop the puck. Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray won’t suit up against the Wings because of a fractured Adam’s Apple that happened on Thursday night in Tampa Bay while trying to block a pass.

Murray also sat out a loss Friday night in Carolina.
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 5:36 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Silence is golden for Preds' free-agent-to-be Suter

DETROIT -- Ryan Suter's "not talking about it" approach to his pending unrestricted free agency this coming summer even extends to his teammates.

"We just don't talk about it at all in here," Suter said, after Nashville's morning skate on Friday at Joe Louis Arena. "Except for this guy over here [Preds defenseman Kevin Klein]. He's been all over me about it ever since we got here. Won't leave me alone, all of a sudden."

Suter wasn't genuinely upset about Klein's ribbing, but there's a reason the joking seemed to fit perfectly with being in the Motor City. Whenever Suter's potential future destination is discussed these days, it seems like it's always accompanied by talk of the Detroit Red Wings -- who could theoretically be one of the main suitors for Suter in free agency.

Regardless, the July 1 start of free agency is still a long ways off and Suter's Predators are currently sitting in good position to make the playoffs for a third straight season. Nashville is third in the Central Division with 72 points heading into Friday night's game against the Red Wings and would be the fifth seed in the Western Conference if the playoffs started now.

There is still time to try and better that position by catching the teams ahead of them in the standings, which is why Suter decided to put the kibosh on talking about free agency with the media.

"It was a distraction, but I'm not talking about it anymore so it's been good," Suter said. "Every game is such a battle for us. The standings are so tight. We've got a little breathing room now, but now we're trying to catch teams in front of us. We're just focused on catching St. Louis and hopefully catching Detroit some time."

Suter also expressed some interest in bettering the Predators prior to the playoffs via a trade and said that Nashville could be on the verge of making a deep postseason run with the right moves prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

"We've got a good group of guys," Suter said. "We might be a couple pieces away from being an elite team for many years, so hopefully we can continue to improve. That's the biggest thing for us, is continuing to improve and get better. I told [Predators general manager] David Poile: 'We win and everything [else] takes care of itself.' That's what we're focused on. In their meetings, hopefully they're focused on the same thing."

Evidently, the Preds' management group is on the same page as Suter. Poile pulled off a deal on Friday afternoon -- not long after Suter talked to reporters -- to bring in big defenseman Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens.

Prior to the announcement of the deal, Suter thought the Predators could not only get past the second round of the playoffs this season, but outright win the Western Conference -- just one year removed from winning their first playoff series. Adding Gill's veteran experience on the blue line can only strengthen that belief.

"You have to go into the playoffs at the top of your game," Suter said. "We've struggled in the last five or six [games], but last game we started to play better and get back to basics. For us to be successful in the playoffs, we've got to continue to improve and get better now. We can't wait for the playoffs, because when you have a young team you can't just flip on the switch. We have to get playing playoff hockey now and hopefully be at the top of our game once we get to the playoffs."
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 4:52 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Zetterberg upgraded to 'game-time decision'

DETROIT -- It turns out Henrik Zetterberg might be healthy enough to face the Nashville Predators on Friday night after all.

After taking a skate on Friday morning at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit's Swedish star forward told reporters that he was feeling a little better than he did on Thursday -- when he missed practice with an undisclosed lower-body injury -- but that he'd still sit out the Nashville game.

"Still day-to-day," Zetterberg said.

However, Detroit general manager Ken Holland said on Friday afternoon that Zetterberg would test it during warm-ups prior to the game and then make a decision. Holland said Zetterberg told Red Wings athletic trainer Piet Van Zant on Friday morning that his injury was feeling better than it had on Thursday.

"He felt pretty good this morning," Holland said. "He'll take the pregame skate and be a game-time decision. Our initial thought was after he got hurt was [that] he'd be out [against Nashville], but when he got to the rink he told Piet he felt OK and wanted to try it. He felt a lot better this morning."

Zetterberg was initially hurt during his first shift in Tuesday's record-setting 3-1 home win against the Dallas Stars, but was able to finish the game. He also scored the first of two Detroit goals in the first period and would've had the eventual game-winning goal had Dallas forward Adam Burish not scored late in the third to provide the final margin.

Zetterberg has also started to heat up recently, scoring goals in two straight games and in three of the last four to go with six assists in the last six contests. If Zetterberg plays, then Tomas Tatar will be a healthy scratch after being recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.

Tatar had been penciled into the lineup to play left wing on the fourth line, with veteran Tomas Holmstrom moving up to right wing of the third line and Justin Abdelkader taking Zetterberg's spot at center of the second line.

If Zetterberg can handle centering the second line, then Abdelkader will head back to right wing of the third line and Holmstrom will head back to the fourth line with youngsters Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton.
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 4:17 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Trotz thinks Blackhawks will make a turnaround

DETROIT -- It was a busy day in the Motor City for Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz on Friday.

Before his Predators completed a trade to bring in Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens in the afternoon, Trotz spent almost 20 minutes chatting with reporters following his team's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. Among the various topics discussed was his opinion of what happened to their Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks, who snapped a nine-game winless skid Thursday at Madison Square Garden with a 4-2 win against the New York Rangers.

Trotz said he believed the losing streak had made the Blackhawks "fragile," and then explained that he saw the Hawks start doing things that were uncharacteristic of them when they were winning and topped the League's standings as recently as late January.

"They're still a good team," Trotz said. “They’re still dangerous … a little bit fragile. What happens when you're struggling is you're fragile and you doubt and you also cheat all over the ice."

That "cheating" -- done by forwards looking to create good offensive chances by slipping behind an opposing defenseman unnoticed -- created too many situations where the Hawks' defense was left vulnerable without enough help from backchecking forwards.

"A lot of times offensive players will say, 'You know, if I just hang out here, a little higher, I'm going to get an offensive chance,'" Trotz said. "But what happens is you don't get an offensive chance because you wind up standing by the defensemen … where if you come back it will be deeper and you come back and help out, you get the puck and you create a little bit of that gap."

That gap largely has been missing for the Hawks when they had the puck the past couple of weeks, which is one of those little details that often goes unnoticed by the casual fan but can decide a game one way or the other.

"If you have no gap, then you have no speed and you're just sort of killing your own skills," Trotz said. "That's why I think Detroit does such a great job. The (Red Wings) play a 200-foot game and they force you to get up and gap up and force you to do all those detail things. Detail things are hard things that you have to do before you have a chance to win. If you're not doing them, then you're really limiting your chances."

Trotz said a number of Chicago's forwards, including Patrick Kane, simply weren't generating enough speed when skating with the puck, largely because they were "cheating" too much looking for breakaways and odd-man rushes.

Trotz's Predators were the team that extended Chicago's winless skid to nine games with a 3-2 victory in Nashville on Tuesday. The Hawks played better than they had in the previous six games of the current nine-game road swing they're finishing, but still showed some of the things Trotz mentioned Saturday.

"Kane had no speed, and thank God because when he gets rolling he's hard to stop," Trotz said. "I was actually happy that he was cheating. (Marian) Hossa was the one guy who was sort of playing a complete game and he ended up being the most dangerous guy all night … and (Jonathan) Toews was the real deal. He was really trying to will that team that night. Some of the other guys were cheating too much -- trying to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing, if you know what I mean."

However, Trotz said he had a gut feeling things would turn around for the Hawks when they arrived in New York.

"I think they sort of hit rock bottom," Trotz said. "When you hit rock bottom, which I thought they did maybe the game before (ours), the hockey gods sort of test you -- and they give you maybe one more slap in the face, like, ‘Now do you get it?’ You know? So I thought the New York game would be sort of a breakout game. Maybe I should have bought some lottery tickets."

Trotz also said he thinks coach Joel Quenneville and his staff will get things corrected in short order and Chicago once again become one of the top teams in the division and Western Conference.

"They will be better off for having gone through it," Trotz said. "They've got a lot of good pieces. The defense is pretty good once you get (Niklas Hjalmarsson) back. They maybe want to get a little deeper (through trades). They've still got dynamic forwards and they've got good team speed and some good size. They've got a lot of the elements. Their goaltending seems to be a little bit of a bugaboo for them right now, but hopefully those guys get back on track."
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Red Wings hope to extend streak without Zetterberg

DETROIT – The last three games here at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings have played increasingly like a playoff team facing elimination.

The desperation they’ve played with of late had more to do with an impressive home winning streak they didn’t want to end shy of becoming the NHL standard. That goal was accomplished on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, whom Detroit beat 3-1 for its 21st straight victory on home ice.

Now, the Wings host the Nashville Predators on Friday night in a bid to extend the mark – and doing so without injured star forward Henrik Zetterberg, veteran forward Danny Cleary and starting goalie Jimmy Howard.

Are they concerned the same level of desperation might not be there as it was before they set the home-winning streak record?

“I think we’re going to be just business as usual,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said following Friday’s morning skate. “We’re trying to get two points. We’re facing a [Central Division] rival, as well, that’s looking to gain points and move up in the standings. I think that’s the approach we’re going to have for tonight’s game.”

That’s a little different than the approach they took prior to the game Tuesday against the Stars, when for the first time during the streak some Wings players talked openly about going for the win to set themselves apart from the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers – who each won 20 straight home games respectively.

The Wings then backed it up by jumping out to an early 2-0 lead against Dallas in a dominating first period before making it stand up with a strong, passionate defensive effort during the final two periods for the win.

Detroit’s also been without Howard for the last four games in the streak, which means journeyman backup Joey MacDonald has been center stage to help the Wings cap it off. MacDonald’s been outstanding – posting a 1.72 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in six appearances since Howard left the lineup starting Feb. 4 in Edmonton – but there’s no denying the defensive effort in front of him has been playoff-quality.

Will the Predators see that same kind of intensity on Friday night?

“I think you look at the standings and you see how tight it is,” Wings forward Drew Miller said. “We’re fighting for points to stay at the top. We want to stay up there and making this place, Joe Louis, a hard place to play. I don’t think it’s as much about continuing the record as it is about continuing to play well at home.”

According to the Predators, that goal has already been accomplished.
Nashville has watched its division rival string so many home victories together during this streak – including a 4-1 Wings win against them on Nov. 26 – that they can’t help but be impressed by it.

“We talked about it the other day, about them playing great at home so just respect that,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “You just respect the streak, but we’ve come in here and played well and gotten games here. To us, it’s a divisional foe. Let’s get after them and see what happens.”

Trotz, however, is quite impressed by the Wings’ record home streak.

“I think it’s one of the great records in the game,” he said. “There isn’t a team in this League where you can just say, ‘Just play [and you’ll win].’ There’s so many good goaltenders who can steal games and so many things that can happen. Then you’ve got travel and we’re in the Western Conference. People can say what they want, but travel beats you up and they’ve [still] done it. More credit to them.”

Speaking of being beat up, the Wings are going through a tough stretch with injuries right now – with Zetterberg’s undisclosed lower-body ailment being the latest hurdle. He participated in Detroit’s optional skate, but wasn’t good enough to play.

Whether he plays on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks is also up in the air.

“It felt a little better,” said Zetterberg, who got hurt on the first shift of the game against Dallas but finished the game and scored the Wings’ first goal. “[It was the] first time I skated since the game. [It’s] still day to day. “I’ll probably practice [Saturday] if it doesn't get any worse tonight. We're just going to wait and see [about playing Sunday). We're doing everything we can with treatment.''

Detroit called up Tomas Tatar from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League to take Zetterberg’s spot on the active roster, while Justin Abdelkader will likely move to Zetterberg’s position on the ice at center of the second line.

Forwards Patric Hornqvist and Brian McGrattan will also miss the game with upper-body injuries and didn’t make the trip.

Here is a look at how the Predators and Red Wings could line up Friday night:

PREDATORS

Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Nick Spaling - Brandon Yip
Matt Halischuk - Jerred Smithson - Jordin Tootoo

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Justin Abdelkader - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Tomas Holmstrom
Tomas Tatar - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin
Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 4:44 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Eaves may not return to Wings' lineup this season

DETROIT -- Patrick Eaves' fractured jaw is healed, but he still has lingering concussion symptoms from getting hit in the right side of the head by a slap shot in late November that might keep the Detroit Red Wings forward out the rest of the season.

Eaves needed surgery to repair the broken jaw that he suffered on Nov. 26 at Joe Louis Arena late in a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators. He was struck while blocking a slap shot at close range by Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi. It appeared to hit Eaves square in the ear hole of his helmet as he positioned his body to block the blast.

Eaves, who skated on his own without equipment on Thursday and does light conditioning work off the ice, immediately went down. He was carried off by a stretcher and taken to a local hospital for further treatment. The good news is the bone has healed after surgery to fix the jaw, but the bad news is that painful headaches and other concussion-like symptoms remain.

"I'm dealing with a lot of headaches right now, but yeah, it's getting better, slowly," Eaves told Bill Roose, managing editor of DetroitRedwings.com, on Thursday morning. "I have [a headache] pretty much all of the time."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said on Thursday that he's going ahead with plans for the rest of this season thinking Eaves won't be in the playing group until next season.

"He's had concussion-like symptoms, probably had a concussion," Holland said. "He's feeling better every day. He doesn't want to push it. He'll wake up [Friday] and see how he feels. I'm going to plan that he's not going to be ready to play this year, but I'm hoping he does play this year."

Detroit hosts Nashville on Friday night in the midst of an NHL record 21-game home winning streak and the Preds haven't been back since the game Eaves got injured.
Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stars want to avoid having record set at their expense

DETROIT -- The Dallas Stars have already lost once to the Detroit Red Wings during a record-tying 20-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena for the home team.

It happened on Nov. 12, when the Stars fell 5-2 to become the fourth team in a row to lose in this building since the Wings last lost here on Nov. 3 to Calgary. Heading into a rematch on Tuesday night, the Stars don't want to become the fifth team during the streak to lose multiple games at "The Joe."

"You don't want to be in the history books as the team that gave them the record at home," Stars forward Adam Burish said after Dallas' morning skate on Tuesday. "There's always motivation at this point of the season to win games and get a playoff spot, but there's a little extra tonight just to not be that team that will be all over TV losing that game to Detroit."

Teammate Steve Ott agreed.

"The love is in the air … it's Valentine's Day," Ott said. "They have a chance to do something very special over there, and we have a chance to knock them off. For us, it probably amps up the game a little more. In an 82-game regular season, it's more of a playoff-type format. You definitely don't want to be in the record books for the wrong reason, being the team associated with the streak they've had. Hopefully, we can be spoilers and put this [to] an end."

However, the Stars should be careful to guard against Detroit's impressive streak creeping too far into their heads in a negative way -- which could've happened to several teams here during the streak, especially of late.

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said it's a trick balancing act when it comes to addressing the streak itself.

"It's probably gotten into a few teams' heads coming in here over the last week or so," he said. "The focus has to be on your own game, and that's what we tried to do this morning -- focus on what we need to do to make us successful in this game."

That includes everything from warm-ups before the game to the pre-game speech before they take the ice.

"You just have to try to keep the players focused on themselves, not the opposition," Gulutzan said.

Or as Ott put it: "Your own marbles sometimes get the best of you."

"You come in here and you look up in the rafters and you see the heritage, the presence that the organization has," Ott said. "For us, we have to take away the nostalgia and play them the same way we'd play anybody else. Hopefully, we can take that kind of attitude and get those cobwebs out of thinking how good they are at home out of our heads."
Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Current, past players see Wings' streak as special

DETROIT -- It's become a topic of discussion on sports radio and television shows the past couple days and has gotten the attention of fans and media alike.

The Detroit Red Wings have won 20 straight games at Joe Louis Arena this season and are now tied with the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers for the NHL record. They also have a chance to set a new mark on Tuesday night when the Dallas Stars play in the Motor City, but all people seem to care about is whether the streak is legitimate enough to recognize without an asterisk.

Why?

Because there was no overtime or shootout in the 1970s when the Flyers of old accomplished the feat -- and there wasn't a shootout to end games back in the '20s and '30s when the Bruins did it. There was, however, overtime when Boston did it -- and the Bruins prevailed twice in the 10-minute OT period that wasn't decided by sudden death.

Regardless, players past and present are coming out in support of what the Red Wings have already accomplished by tying the other two teams.

"I think it's truly amazing," Dallas forward Steve Ott said on Tuesday. "Anytime a record's broken, or tied or even in the same characteristic of any other record, it's special. I think if you talk to Wayne Gretzky about Sam Gagner (8-point game), he'd tell you it's pretty amazing in this age. The players are a lot [more] similar. The teams are a lot [more] similar. That parity … it's so much closer than it was back in the '80s or the '70s, or even the '90s for that fact."

Those factors alone, Ott said, make Detroit's feat this season every bit as impressive as the Bruins and Flyers of years past.

"It's a new era, a new game and the guys are so well-versed on physical strength and mental strength,” Ott said. "There's so many different methods of preparation -- video preparation. So much has changed over the years. That's a phenomenal feat to win 20 straight home games."

The Red Wings agree. They're also starting to take issue a little bit with people who insinuate their streak is somehow cheapened by three of their wins coming in the shootout and a fourth in overtime.

"You still have to win the games," said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who also mentioned the increasing parity in the League brought on by the hard salary cap coming out of the work stoppage. "You still have to win, whether it's in overtime or a shootout. You still have to win it. You can easily lose it, too."

And the Red Wings haven't since Nov. 3 against Calgary, a span of 103 days. It's impressive to players all around the League, even if people in the media or fans try to belittle it.

"To do it now, in a League where there's so much parity and so many games are so even, to me makes it show even more how hard it is," Stars forward Adam Burish said. "Yeah, those games did go to overtime, because teams are so much harder to beat now. They're in overtime and that makes it even harder, because a lot of times you get a back-to-back and have to play the next night. It's as impressive a record as it was back in the 1970s, and maybe even harder to do."

Hall of Famer Ray Bourque agrees.

"It's not an easy thing to do in the game at this point in time, to win that many games in a row at home with the parity in the League," he said, when asked about the Red Wings' streak. "They've made teams think when they come into their building, there's very little chance they're leaving with a win."

That's why the Red Wings are pleased with what they've already accomplished and will be gunning for the top spot on Tuesday night. They haven't spent a lot of time doting on the streak until lately, when asked about it every day, but now that they have it the naysayers don't upset them at all.

"Nothing we can do about the rules," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "We still [won] 20 games at home in a row, so we're happy. We're proud of it. We're not thinking that much about shootout wins. If [critics] want to think that way, they can do that. We are pretty happy about the streak. If we win the next one, no one has done that."
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Quote of the Day

It's not just going to happen on its own. We have to have guys commit to the areas we need to improve on. We're going to be better than last year but there is still a long way to go. But I really like the pieces and where we're headed.

— Sabres forward Tyler Ennis on the progress of Buffalo's rebuilding process