RED WINGS (12-7-1) at BRUINS (13-7-0)
TV: NBC (HD), TSN (HD)
Last 10 – Detroit 7-3-0; Boston 10-0-0.
Season series – This is the first and only time the Original Six franchises will face-off against each other this season.
Big story – It's the inaugural "Thanksgiving Showdown" and NBC broadcast of the season, not to mention a matchup between the perennial Stanley Cup contending Red Wings and defending Cup champion Bruins. Boston's "Cup Hangover" appeared to last all of 10 games, as the Bruins stumbled to a 3-7-0 start. They've been red shot ever since, winning 10 straight games for the first time since Dec. 12, 2008 to Jan. 1, 2009. They're also lighting up opposing goalies by scoring a shade under five goals a game in that stretch. Detroit's season can best be described as turbulent. The Red Wings won five straight to start, went winless in the next six, won four more in a row and then dropped two before winning three in a row heading into this game.
Red Wings – Detroit is still trying to find some consistency during a topsy-turvy season. This is a new thing for the Red Wings, who are usually one of the most consistent teams in the League. Detroit coach Mike Babcock sees it as a side effect of increased parity in the NHL prompted by the introduction of the hard salary cap – which forces teams each off-season to make tough decisions on talented players with increasing salaries.
The Red Wings also lost former puck-moving defenseman Brian Rafalski to retirement, which created a void that free agent signee Ian White is trying to fill as Nick Lidstrom's defense pair.
"Is it strange or do you look around the League?" Babcock said of Detroit's streaks. "What's the League doing? Streaky. Why do you think it's streaky? Because we’re all the same. The thing I like about our team is we get lots of rubber to the net, we seem to be on offense a lot, we give up very little – I really like that about us – and we've had real good goaltending. What don't I like? We're not consistent enough."
Bruins – The superlatives to describe just how hot this team has been in November seem endless. The Bruins are getting it done, in impressive fashion, at both ends of the ice. They're scoring in bunches and stonewalling opposing attacks. They also came into a rivalry game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday toting a nine-game win streak and two-game shutout streak that was 162:11 long heading into that game, all logged by Tim Thomas. They extended it to 10 games and continued to click on all cylinders offensively.
Rookie Tyler Seguin continues to impress with eight goals and 13 points in his last 10 games – including one goal and one assist in Wednesday's shootout win against the Sabres. After dropping like a rock to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the Bruins have rebounded by obliterating their "Cup Hangover" to become the hottest team in the League.
"We've been a lot hungrier (in November), a lot more focused, determined and maybe it took us falling into last place in the (Eastern) Conference to realize that we were in trouble and we had to do something to get ourselves back into the race," Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters on Wednesday. "We've got a good team, but somehow it just seemed like we didn't let go of what happened last year and over the course of the summer. Once we realized where we were, it was a matter of understanding what we had to do."
Who's hot: Thomas hasn't missed a beat from last season despite the fact he's 37 and had a short celebration-infused summer to prepare. Coming into Wednesday's game at Buffalo, he hadn't allowed a goal on the road since giving one up against Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 15 in a 3-2 shootout win – an amazing 222:16 span. … Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom has three goals and six assists in his last 10 games, including two helpers in Wednesday's win against the Calgary Flames.
Injury report: Johan Franzen (lower body) and Brad Stuart both played against Calgary on Wednesday but were considered game-time decisions for Detroit, while rookie forward Jan Mursak has missed all 20 games with a fractured ankle.
Stat pack: The Red Wings are putting a little more than eight shots per game on opposing goalies than they're allowing, which is the best margin in the League -- by a lot. The next closest teams in that category are no higher than five more shots per game than allowed. During their 10-game win streak, the Bruins have outscored opponents by a margin of 47-17 – including a 18-3 margin in five road games.
Puck drop: This matchup could have some extra importance for Thomas, who is originally from Flint, Mich., and isn't shy about telling people his affinity for Detroit sports teams.
"We did a conference call (together) this week and he was talking about Thanksgiving and watching the Lions and everything like that," said Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who really admires Thomas. "He still cares a lot about where he comes from and he's never forgotten. That's good."