Avalanche-Red Wings Preview
GAME: Colorado Avalanche (11-7-0) at Detroit Red Wings (15-5-2).
TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Detroit Red Wings return to the Joe Louis Arena ice filled with concern over teammate Jiri Fischer in their first game since the defenseman's heart stopped during a seizure on the bench.
The Wings are set to face one of their top Western Conference rivals, the Colorado Avalanche, but Detroit's opponent is largely unimportant as the team worries and attempts to cope with the frightening incident that occurred in its last game.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday that the 6-foot-5, 235-pound defenseman is "doing very, very well." Holland and team physician Tony Colucci - who performed CPR on Fischer on the bench Monday night - said the player was "in good spirits."
Fischer suffered the seizure just moments after leaving the ice on a shift change following a first-period goal by Nashville's Greg Johnson.
Joe Louis Arena fell silent as medical personnel rushed to the bench when the Red Wings frantically alerted officials to stop the game. Colucci administered CPR before the 25-year-old native of the Czech Republic was removed on a stretcher.
"They hooked up the auto defibrillator and shocked him," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
By the time Fischer arrived at the hospital, though, he had improved so much that he was talking when visited by his teammates.
The game was called off with 7:30 left in the period, and no makeup date was immediately announced.
Fischer's blood pressure and heart rate were stable by the time he got to the hospital, and Colucci said there was no way to know what caused the seizure.
"I think the players on Nashville's team, like us, they were rattled," Detroit forward Brendan Shanahan said. "Jiri has some friends over there that he played on the Czech national team with."
The club put no timetable on when Fischer, diagnosed with a heart abnormality in September 2002, can return to the ice to rejoin his teammates, who were trying to break a four-game losing streak before the scary incident. Detroit still leads the Central Division by five points over Nashville, but the club has hit a rough stretch since a three-game winning streak.
The Wings have dropped consecutive one-goal games, falling 6-5 in overtime at Edmonton on Thursday and 3-2 against St. Louis on Saturday.
Colorado is also struggling, having dropped two in a row and four of six. The Avalanche, locked in a tight battle for the Northwest Division lead, lost 3-2 in a shootout Monday night to division rival Calgary.
Flames goaltender Philippe Sauve stopped Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay in the shootout, and Tony Amonte beat Peter Budaj for the only goal.
"He's a great goalie," Sakic said of Sauve, a 1998 Avs draft pick who spent one season with them in 2003-04. "He played well for us when he had his opportunity. He's played well for them."
STANDINGS (through Nov. 22): Avalanche - 25 points, 3rd place (tied), 5 PB, Northwest Division. Red Wings - 32 points, 1st place, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 10 goals; Tanguay, 15 assists and 23 points; Ian Laperriere, 45 PIM. Red Wings - Shanahan, 12 goals; Jason Williams, 15 assists; Pavel Datsyuk, 23 points; Chris Chelios, 56 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 22): Avalanche - Power play: 18.8 percent (27 for 143), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (109 for 128), tied for 4th. Red Wings - Power play: 23.6 percent (31 for 131), 2nd. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (115 for 135), tied for 4th.
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (8-5-0, 3.48 GAA); Budaj (3-2-3, 2.27). Red Wings - Manny Legace (12-4-0, 2 SO, 2.15); Chris Osgood (3-1-2, 2.97).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: March 27, 2004; Red Wings, 2-0. At Detroit, Legace made 27 saves, and Datsyuk and Mathieu Schneider scored to lift the Wings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 5-4-0 on the road; Red Wings - 8-3-1 at home.