BLUE JACKETS (0-5-1) at RED WINGS (4-0-0)
TV: NHLN-CA, FS-O (HD), FS-D
First of six meetings between these Central Division rivals. The Red Wings went 4-1-1 against the Blue Jackets during the 2010-11 season, with Valtteri Filppula
's 4 goals leading all scorers.
While Detroit will be playing its first game in six days (the Wings enter Friday tied for the fewest games played, along with the Devils and Sharks), Columbus has the tall task of trying to earn its first win of the season against a team that has yet to be beaten.
Not only is Columbus the only NHL team remaining with a zero in the win column, 13 of the 15 clubs in the Western Conference already have at least two victories (San Jose, at 1-3-0, is the other exception). What this means is the Blue Jackets need to start picking up points immediately, or they risk burying themselves before the playoff chase even heats up. Their goal differential is minus-8, meaning they aren't getting blown out, but as with Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Stars, they're consistently falling just a little short.
"We certainly didn't score enough goals, but at least the opportunities were there," coach Scott Arniel said following practice Wednesday. "(The new line combinations) showed some chemistry and were on the same page when it came to assignments; there were some good things generated from it.
"Still, with one more practice to go before Detroit, we need for all of them to have some offensive success."
A lot of down time over the season's first two weeks has meant plenty of practice for Detroit, and both the players and coach Mike Babcock are eager to return to game action. What Babcock has seen from his team so far has been positive -- not only are the Red Wings undefeated, 10 different players already have a goal, 17 have at least a point, and both goalies have already recorded a shutout. In their most recent game, last Saturday, a power-play goal by Johan Franzen
with 49 seconds left in overtime gave them a 3-2 win over the Wild.
"The guys did a great job in front of me all night long," said winning goalie Jimmy Howard
, who needed to make only 12 saves. "We played a lot in their end and generated a lot of opportunities. Even when they had the lead we kept battling, kept getting pucks to the net and retrieving them."
Franzen has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak for the Red Wings. Jiri Hudler
has 2 goals and 2 assists during a four-game points streak. Ian White
has 2 goals to tie Franzen and Hudler for the team lead. Howard and Ty Conklin
have combined to allow 5 goals on 100 shots, for a .950 save percentage.
Adding injury to insult, Columbus had to place its big trade acquisition, goal-scorer Jeff Carter
, on injured reserve with a hairline fracture in his right foot that will sideline him 7-10 days. He joins forwards Kristian Huselius
(pectoral surgery) and Jared Boll
(broken thumb) and goaltender Mark Dekanich
(sprained ankle). Goalie Curtis Sanford
is out 2-4 weeks with a groin injury. Defenseman Marc Methot
is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, though he practiced Wednesday. … Detroit has forward Jan Mursak
(broken ankle) and defenseman Mike Commodore
(lower body) on injured reserve.
Stat Pack: Derick Brassard
's power-play goal in Tuesday's game was the 2,000th goal in Blue Jackets history. … The Red Wings went 141 minutes, 19 seconds without yielding a goal before Wild defenseman Greg Zanon scored in the final minute of the first period Saturday.
It hasn't been all practice for Detroit this week -- the team's website highlighted how the Wings were special guests of the FBI on Tuesday and were treated to an afternoon of target practice at the Canton Police Department's gun range.
"(Tuesday) was a real fun day for the guys and they didn't have to listen to me, and I didn't have to watch them practice," Babcock said. "It's something to talk about. Guys are in a different environment and you get to laugh at each other and have some fun with each other, and enjoy it."