DETROIT – The Red Wings will face far different types of teams this week than they did against Los Angeles, San Jose and Chicago recently.
While the Kings, Sharks and Blackhawks are extremely tough on opposing defenses with their big, bruising forwards, the Wings’ next two opponents – the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers – play more of a speedy quick brand than a physical style.
“Colorado and Edmonton both have tons of speed,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The one thing about a team in our situation, every night's a real contest, we understand that totally.”
The Red Wings will face the Avs for the first time this season, hosting the team from Denver at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night.
Colorado enters the week at No. 13 in the Western Conference standings, but still only four-points behind the Red Wings, who currently sit in the final playoff spot with 24 points.
“They’re really not all that far off,” goalie Jimmy Howard said of the Avs. “They’re all grouped together from fourth all the way to last, so it’s tight and going to continue to be that way all the way to the end of the season. You just have to find a way every single night to get points.”
The light-scoring Avs started slow this season. And despite a 5-4-3 record in February, the owners of the third worst goal-differential (-10) in the West are 1-1-3 in their last five games.
The Avs received a boost last week when they matched Calgary’s offer sheet for forward Ryan O’Reilly, who played his first game of the season in Sunday’s overtime loss at Columbus. Despite his return, O’Reilly skated on the third line with John Mitchell and Milan Hejduk.
Still, Howard expects the Avs to be a challenge, especially as it relates to getting to the net.
“They’re fast,” said Howard, who is 4-2-1 lifetime against Colorado. “They’re extremely quick up front, but as far as being able to watch them play, I haven’t seen many games this year.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
Right Wing - COL
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 18
SOG: 45 | +/-: 4
RW P.A. PARENTEAU – The 29-year-old free agent signing has been a pleasant surprise for the Avalanche this season. He enters the week as the team’s leading goal scorer with nine, and is second in points, one behind center Matt Duchene, who has 19 points. The Avs signed Parentneau last summer to a four-year, $16 million contract to leave the New York Islanders, where he became a solid playmaker with John Tavares. … A proven point-producer, Parenteau has points in five of the last seven games. He scored the lone goal in Sunday’s OT loss, while working on a line with center Matt Duchene and left wing Jamie McGinn. … In three career games against the Red Wings, Parenteau has produced a goal and an assist – both on the power play. His goal against Detroit was also a game-winner – he has just five in his career – when he scored in overtime on Dec. 31, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena.
Season Series: 0-0-0
2011-12 Season Series: 2-2-0
All-Time Series Season: 59-41-5-5
Colorado’s Season Record: 8-8-4
Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: Gabriel Landeskog – 3 Goals, 2 Assists in 4 Games; Ryan O’Reilly – 2 Goals, 3 Assists in 4 Games.
Red Wings’ Top Scorer – Johan Franzen – 5 Goals in 4 Games; Henrik Zetterberg – 1 Goal, 4 Assists in 4 games.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
Tickets to this game and all 10 remaining regular-season contests at The Joe are currently available for purchase at the JLA box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.