RED WINGS (4-4-3) at FLAMES (7-3-1)
-- Detroit 4-3-3; Calgary 6-3-1
-- First meeting of 2009-10, the two teams split the series last year, Detroit taking the first two, Calgary the last two.
-- Right when things started to look up for the slow-starting Red Wings, they suffered another setback when center Valtteri Filppula
broke his right wrist in Thursday's 6-5 shootout loss in Edmonton.
"Obviously, I feel terrible," said Filppula to the Detroit News. "But there's nothing I can do about it now." Filppula was recently moved up to the second line, but will now sit out six to eight weeks while the wrist mends.
The Flames, on the other hand, will host the last of a five-game homestand, having taken the first three convincingly with five or more goals scored in each, only to be stopped by everybody's favorite Cinderella team, the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2 on Wednesday.
-- Naturally, any time an impact player falls to injury, that leaves a big chunk of ice time ready for the taking. Not long before Filppula went down, he had registered his 100th career NHL point assisting on Darren Helm
's second-period goal, and Helm is one of the players expected to step up.
"Losing Fil, such an important part of our team is tough," captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said in the Detroit News. "But somebody else will get an opportunity and I thought Helm played real well tonight. He was skating hard and he had a goal and an assist."
The game in Edmonton reflected the nature of the Wings' season so far. An injury and flu-ridden Oilers team jumped to a 5-1 lead on Shawn Horcoff's power-play goal 9:05 into the second period. The Wings fired back with four unanswered goals off Nikolai Khabibulin to force overtime and steal a point, but the "Bulin Wall" stood firm in the shootout, allowing a lone goal by Patrick O'Sullivan to secure a second point for the Oilers.
-- Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman made an appearance in the Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday and Jarome Iginla
didn't waste much time making an impression with a goal 55 seconds after the opening faceoff. Olli Jokinen
made it 2-0 only 15 seconds later, but that was as good as things got for Calgary off Craig Anderson as the NHL-leading Avs took over from there.
Making things even more confusing, the Flames outshot the Avs 32-14 and have an 'L' to show for it.
"They didn't play a long time in their own zone," said Jarome Iginla
to the Calgary Herald. "Usually, we play more than that in the other team's zone -- that's been part of our success this year. The cycles. The sustained pressure. (Wednesday), we weren't quick enough, sharp enough, to do that.
"Even though we had those shots...we should have had a better forecheck."
-- Flames left winger Rene Bourque
was shut out in the Colorado game but had a goal and four assists in his previous two games, extending his team point lead with 14 in 11 games. Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk
followed his two-goal, one-assist performance in Vancouver with two more helpers in Edmonton for a total of five points in two games.
-- Flames center Dustin Boyd (flu) skated by himself on Thursday after the facility had cleared.
-- The two quick goals in the first 1:10 by the Flames against Colorado gave them their fastest two-goal start in franchise history at home. It took only 32 seconds for them to score a pair back in March 1987, but that was in Hartford. They did it in 59 seconds a year later on Long Island.
-- A pair of teams that despite recent setbacks can put a lot of goals on the board should make for a very entertaining Halloween evening in Calgary.
-- Matt Mankiewich, NHL.com