Update (2:40 PM): The official site has more on Hartigan here. Great quote from Mike Babcock:
â€œHeâ€™s been the best player, according to Jim Nill, and the American League as far as a forward goes. Our other option was to play (Derek) Meech and have seven (defensemen). We thought it was more important to have four lines”
Babcock also says Hartigan will have to learn quickly how to adapt to fourth-line minutes after seeing top six ice in Grand Rapids.
Also, Red Wings TV has this video of comments from Babcock, Hartigan, and “Aaaron” Downey. - Matt
Update (10:57 AM): Looks like Maltby is out tonight, as Bruce MacLeod reports that Mark Hartigan practiced with the team today. Hartigan has 11 goals and 17 points through 20 games in Grand Rapids. He skated between Kopecky and Downey, while Dallas Drake moved up to the third line with Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary. Jiri Hudler skated on Valtteri Filppula’s wing. - Matt
Tonight is the first regular season game between these two teams since December 17th, 2005. The Wings won that meeting, 6-3.
The Lightning are 5-7-1 thus far in November, with the five wins coming all in a row November 7-November 16. An overtime loss to Atlanta on the 19th, however, kicked off a five-game skid in which they’ve only earned that one point. If the scores are any indication (2-1, 4-3, 3-2), the games have been close – except for their most recent game, a 5-1 loss to Chicago last night. They were the unfortunate victims of the return of Martin Havlat to the Blackhawk lineup. The oft-injured Hawk had two goals in his first game since the season opener. The Lightning only managed a goal at 9:52 of the third period.
Vincent Lecavalier leads the team in all three major offensive categories: goals (16), assists (22), and points (38). He leads the league in the latter two, by the way. His linemate Martin St. Louis has 8 goals to go with 22 assists.
The Freep lists Filip Kuba (abdomen) as “probable,” and the St. Petersburg Times lists him as day-to-day. Dan Boyle (wrist) and Tim Tayler (hip) are definitely out. Sadly, Ken Daniels will have maybe one opportunity to make a “Tool Man” crack.
Johan Holmqvist got the start last night, but was yanked after allowing three goals on ten shots. Marc Denis stepped in and allowed two in seven. I can’t seem to find anything on the starter tonight, but it seems like that it will be Denis, as he only played 20 minutes last night.
For the Lightning perspective on things, check out Bolts Blog and Boltsmag.
The Wings improved to 6-4-1 in the month of November with their 5-3 win over Calgary Tuesday night. That and their other win over the Flames this month bookended a nine-game stretch against Central Division teams in which they posted a 4-4-1 record. They won’t play another opponent from their own division until December 10th when they travel to Nashville.
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk remain the offensive leaders on the team. Hank has 16 goals and 33 points, while Pavel has 19 assists.
The team lost Kris Draper to a knee sprain Tuesday night and will be without his services for 10-14 days. Matt Ellis did not practice yesterday due to headaches, which began a week ago after a heavy hit by Jordin Tootoo of the Predators. Kirk Maltby did not skate yesterday, either, due to a shoulder injury. His status for tonight is unknown at the moment. If he cannot go, the team will either dress Derek Meech as a seventh defenseman or call up a forward from Grand Rapids. Keep on eye on the AHL transaction wire. There is some positive injury news: Tomas Kopecky has been cleared to play after sitting out three games with a shoulder injury.
Chris Osgood will get his third straight start tonight.
For more of the Wings’ perspective, check out Snapshots, Gorilla Crouch, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Gloveside, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, and Winging It In Motown.
In spite of their recent struggles, the Lightning remain a very dangerous team with a heck of a lot of talent. The Wings cannot take them lightly, especially given the fact that their top shutdown forward, Kris Draper, will not be in the lineup. They’ll have to play tight and smart defense if they want to keep Lecavalier from racking up more points. It’ll be the first Wings game I’ve been able to watch in a week. I hope it’s a good one.