|For the second time in less than week, the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets will meet in another edition of their Central Division rivalry. The two clubs have not met twice in the first month of the season in quite some time, and story lines are plentiful already. |
Detroit won the season series opener Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, the difference being three power-play goals in a 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets. Johan Franzen scored two goals in the first period, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom each scored timely goals in the second and third periods, respectively, and Valtteri Filppula added an empty-netter.
Needless to say, the Red Wings have their big guns going at full speed early in the season. Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel went over the keys to success against Detroit last week and felt his club did certain things well to execute the game plan; teams must pressure the Red Wings all over the ice and create turnovers to combat Detroit’s fluid, puck-possession style.
Saturday night in the nation’s capital, the Washington Capitals put a lot of pressure on the Red Wings’ defense and came away with a 7-1 victory that did not resonate well with Detroit coach Mike Babcock. Washington’s strategy against the Red Wings was similar to what Arniel mentioned: shoot the puck, get traffic in front and force them to make mistakes. Ty Conklin was between the pipes for all seven goals scored by the Capitals.
At 5-1-0 heading into Tuesday’s game at Nationwide Arena, the Red Wings have proven that their game is consistent both at home and away from Joe Louis Arena. They opened their road schedule with a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center two weeks ago, and also claimed a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul on October 15.
The strangest part of Detroit being tagged for seven goals against? The Red Wings allowed as many goals to the Capitals (7) as they had in their previous five games combined; they shut out the Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks in their first three regular-season games. Even with a lopsided defeat in the mix, the Red Wings (+5) still hold one of the top goal differentials in the NHL.
With two games sandwiched so close together on the schedule, the recipe for success hasn’t changed all that much for Columbus. To get the Red Wings off their game and claim their first win of the season, the Blue Jackets must use their forecheck to sustain pressure, hem the Red Wings defense below the goal line and force them to make bad decisions with the puck.
| || || |
|Prospal, Nash (3) ||Franzen (4) |
|Prospal, Nash (5) ||Filppula (5) |
|Prospal, Nash (8) ||Filppula, Franzen (4) |
|Dorsett (14) ||Franzen, Bertuzzi (5) |
|Russell (+2) ||White (+5) |
|Mason (0-7-1) |
|Howard (4-0-0) |
|Mason (3.53) ||Howard (1.72) |
|Mason (.878) ||Howard (.933) || |
|• For the Blue Jackets to get a leg up on the Red Wings, they will have to win the special teams battle. After keeping the Dallas Stars power play off the board in a home-and-home series last week, the Blue Jackets allowed five power-play goals against Detroit (3) and Ottawa (2). |
• Filppula’s four-point night against the Blue Jackets on Friday night was a career-high for the Finnish forward, and he provides a strong secondary scoring presence for the Red Wings. Through six games, Filppula is tied with Franzen for the team’s scoring lead with seven points (two goals, five assists).
• Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard will not dress for tomorrow’s game. His wife gave birth to a baby boy this week, and so he will not travel with the team to Columbus. Detroit recalled goaltender Joey MacDonald from Grand Rapids (AHL), and the expectation is that Conklin will start in goal against the Blue Jackets.
• Rick Nash has stepped up and been an offensive leader for the Blue Jackets this season. The Columbus captain has points in six of the eight games so far and scored a beautiful power-play goal in Ottawa. He’s made quite a career against the Red Wings, too – Nash has three career hat tricks against Detroit and has tallied 23-20-43 in 50 total games.
• The Blue Jackets like to shoot the puck often and from everywhere when they play the Red Wings, and on Friday night, they were the first team to outshoot Detroit this season (34-33). Prior to that game, the Red Wings were outshooting their opponents 156-100, an average of 14.0 shots on goal per game.
• Blue Jackets defenseman Aaron Johnson has been a key contributor to the Blue Jackets at even strength and on the power play of late. The free-agent signing this summer has goals in consecutive games for Columbus, and his multi-point effort Friday night (one goal, one assist) was his first since Mar. 15, 2010 as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Johnson’s power-play goal in Detroit was his first goal in 12 games.
C - #43
• Darren Helm may not be a 40-goal scorer or a perennial NHL All-Star, but he is one of the most important pieces of Babcock’s lineup. The 24-year-old native of Winnipeg can play all three forward positions and is one of the speediest skaters in the league. That fleet-footed ability makes him a versatile threat for the Red Wings - especially while shorthanded.
G Mark Dekanich (ankle); indefinitely
LW Kristian Huselius (pectoral); indefinitely
RW Jared Boll (thumb); indefinitely
C Jeff Carter (foot); day-to-day
G Curtis Sanford (groin); 2 to 4 weeks
D Marc Methot (thumb); indefinitely
D Radek Martinek (concussion); indefinitely