Red Wings-Kings Preview
GAME: Detroit Red Wings (42-18-11-2) at Los Angeles Kings (28-22-16-7).
TIME: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
The Detroit Red Wings are getting healthy. That's not good news for the rest
of the league.
Battling for the NHL's best record, Detroit hopes to have defenseman Derian
Hatcher back in the lineup when it continues a five-game trip with a stop in
Los Angeles against the Kings.
The Red Wings clinched a playoff berth for the 14th consecutive season with
a 1-1 tie at Phoenix on Thursday.
Curtis Joseph stopped 28 shots and Brendan Shanahan scored in the second
period for Detroit, tied with Tampa Bay for the league's best record and four
points ahead of Colorado for first place in the Western Conference.
All-Star center Pavel Datsyuk returned to the lineup earlier than expected
for the Red Wings. Datsyuk, who missed six games with a sprained left ankle,
wasn't expected back until Saturday or Sunday at Anaheim.
"A couple days early," Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. "It's exciting to
watch him play - exciting for the team. He's been such an important part of
things all season long."
This has been a difficult first season in Detroit for Hatcher, who missed 64
games with a torn knee ligament before returning March 8. Hatcher injured his
shoulder against Calgary on Tuesday, forcing him to sit out Thursday.
"It's a bruised shoulder," Lewis said. "The trainers feel Derian possibly
will be available for the weekend. That's a good injury."
Forwards Robert Lang and Kris Draper and defensemen Niklas Kronwall and
Mathieu Dandenault are still sidelined for the Red Wings. All four could return
for the playoffs.
Detroit has three one-goal wins against Los Angeles this season, and is
unbeaten in the last six meetings (5-0-1).
The Kings are one of four teams fighting for one of the final two playoff
berths in the West, but would not qualify if the season ended today.
Roman Cechmanek struggled in his return to the lineup Thursday, as the Kings
fell 5-3 to San Jose.
In his first game after missing 12 with a groin injury, Cechmanek allowed
goals on the first two shots he faced and was pulled after surrendering four
goals on 13 shots through 40 minutes.
"We need saves out of our goalies, but I don't want to put all the (blame)
on the goaltending," Kings coach Andy Murray said. "We need a lot of people
to step up."
Cristobal Huet, 6-4-2 in Cechmanek's absence, is expected to start Saturday.
The Kings have a difficult remaining schedule. Of their final nine
opponents, seven will likely be in the postseason and the other two are against
STANDINGS (through March 18): Red Wings - 97 points, 1st place, Central
Division. Kings - 79 points, 3rd place, 11 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Lang, 29 goals, 49 assists and 78 points;
Shanahan, 100 PIM. Kings - Alexander Frolov, 23 goals; Jozef Stumpel, 29
assists; Luc Robitaille, 48 points; Sean Avery, 238 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 18): Red Wings - Power play: 20.5 percent (60
for 292), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.3 percent (247 for 283), 1st. Kings -
Power play: 13.8 percent (45 for 326), 27th. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (251
for 311), 27th.
GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Curtis Joseph (15-9-3, 2 SO, 2.35 GAA); Manny
Legace (19-8-5, 2, 1.95). Kings - Cechmanek (18-17-6, 5, 2.49); Huet (10-11-10,
SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 22; Red Wings, 5-4. At Los Angeles, Brett Hull scored his
first goal in 21 games, and Mathieu Schneider had two goals against his former
team for Detroit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 14-12-7-2 on the road; Kings - 15-12-9-1 at