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Flames hope to solve defensive woes vs. Wings

by Brian Hunter
RED WINGS (6-2-1) at FLAMES (6-5-0)


Last 10:
Calgary 6-4-0

Season Series: Second of four meetings this season and the first at Scotiabank Saddledome. Johan Franzen had the go-ahead goal in the third period as Detroit won 4-2 at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 21. Jimmy Howard made 34 saves. Mikael Backlund scored twice in the first period for Calgary.

Big Story: Back when these teams met for the first time, the big concern with the Flames seemed to be scoring goals -- including that game with the Red Wings, they had only 11 in half a dozen contests. Since then, the Flames have scored 22 goals in five games, but they enter Wednesday on a two-game losing streak thanks to a sudden inability to keep the puck out of their own net. Since blanking the Sharks on Oct. 24, they've given up 17 goals in their last three games.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk scored twice and added an assist as Detroit finished up a successful month of October with a convincing 5-2 win over Central Division rival Nashville on Saturday. With back spasms sidelining Howard, veteran goalie Chris Osgood started his second straight and picked up his 398th career victory. Now Osgood is ailing with a groin injury expected to cost him several days to a week, but Howard seems sufficiently recovered to start Wednesday.

"Everything's gone down and gone back to normal," Howard told the Detroit Free Press following practice Monday. "No pain in my lower back. Nice to get back out there.

"I got out there before practice about 20 minutes early and did some skating drills."

Flames: Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross staked Calgary to an early 2-0 lead over Washington on Saturday, but it was completely downhill from there as the Flames were routed 7-2 by the Capitals, on the heels of a 6-5 loss to the Avalanche two nights earlier. Even in their most recent win, the team blew a 4-1 lead to the Oilers and had to survive for a 5-4 shootout victory.

"The first month is in the books," captain Jarome Iginla said after Monday's practice. "We obviously have to improve. We're in a little bit of a rut, but there is still lots of time. It's a new month and we have to get back to winning. There are a lot of teams in the same boat and they are battling to find their game consistency. We are no different, we need to do that.

"It's important to stay positive. We have to look at ourselves personally and as a team, and things will improve. At the same time, we do need to remain positive. When you get up it's a new day, it's a day to come back to work, and we definitely did that today. It was tough and it should be. We need to bring up our consistency and our habits and Brent has definitely gotten that across."

Who's Hot: Henrik Zetterberg (3-7-10), Datsyuk (4-4-8) and Nicklas Lidstrom (1-7-8) have five-game points streaks going for the Red Wings. Johan Franzen has 3 goals and 1 assist during a four-game points streak. … Jokinen has goals in consecutive games for the Flames.

Injury Report: With Osgood likely to miss Wednesday's game, Joey MacDonald, who had been backing him up while Howard was out, will remain with Detroit for the time being. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who hasn't played since the season opener due to back spasms, is likely to return to the lineup. Fellow blueliner Brian Rafalski is skating again following arthroscopic knee surgery, but not yet ready to play. Forward Kris Draper remains out after sports hernia surgery.

Calgary will be without defenseman Adam Pardy (shoulder) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Ryan Stone (knee), Ales Kotalik (knee) and Raitis Ivanans (concussion). Forward David Moss could be ready to make his season debut after rehabbing a shoulder injury.

Stat Pack: The Red Wings' second-ranked penalty kill (91.2 percent) is led when it comes to ice time by the team's fourth-liners, Darren Helm (3:07 per game), Patrick Eaves (3:07) and Drew Miller (2:32). … Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has 5 wins this season and needs 33 more to pass Mike Vernon for first on the team's all-time list.

Puck Drop: Detroit is currently third in the NHL with a 3.33 goals-per-game average, so this game should provide an excellent test for Calgary to see if it has tightened up defensively.

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