Tonight is the second of four games between these two teams this season. The Wings won the first meeting, 5-2, on October 20th.Â They’ll play once more this month on the 29th and then finish the season series on January 30th.
After a 4-6-0 run in October, the Coyotes put up a 7-6-0 record in November. They managed to put together four consecutive wins from the 17th to the 24th with victories over LA (twice), Anaheim, and Toronto, but that streak ended on the 28th with a loss to the Wild. They are coming off a big 6-1 loss to Chicago last night, their second in a row. It was a game in which a little known Blackhawk defenseman, Dustin Byfuglien, scored a natural hat trick in just under five and a half minutes in the first period. The Coyotes were without Ed Jovanovski, who was suspended one game after hitting Marian Gaborik in the head Wednesday night.
Radim Vrbata leads the team in goals with nine, while captain Shane Doan leads in assists and points with 13 and 18.
It looks like the Coyotes have no injuries, so the only lineup change should be the return of Jovanovski.
Ilya Bryzgalov started last night, but gave up 5 goals on 7 shots and was yanked after Byfuglien completed his hat trick. Mikael Tellqvist stepped in and made nineteen saves. That’s unfortunate for the Wings, who likely would have seen Tellqvist tonight had Bryzgalov played the whole game. It now looks like they’ll face the #1 guy rather than the backup.
The Wings finished October 10-2-1, but followed that up with a 7-4-1 November. They have won their last two, including a 4-2 decision over Tampa Bay Wednesday night. It was one of their more dominating performances of the season, as the Lightning underwhelmed and did not put up much of a fight despite having one of the more exciting lineups in the game. Tonight is the last in a three-game home stand for the Wings, who’ll travel to Montreal to face the Habs on Tuesday.
Since the offensive leaders on the team haven’t changed in weeks, I’ll point out the guys on the opposite end of the spectrum. Aaron Downey has zero points in 13 (but still manages to be valuable to the team), while Dallas Drake has a single assist in 18 games. Johan Franzen has managed a whopping 2 points (a goal and an assist) through 15 games.
Kirk Maltby (back) and Kris Draper (left knee sprain) are out tonight, while Matt Ellis (headaches) will return. He’ll center the fourth line with Tomas Kopecky and Aaron Downey, though that line will no doubt be split up at times.
Chris Osgood will get his fourth consecutive start tonight. Dominik Hasek will start in Montreal.
For more of the Wings perspective, see Snapshots, Gorilla Crouch, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Gloveside, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, and Winging It In Motown. Todd already has his preview up.
The Wings played a strong game Wednesday night and need to carry that over tonight. They cannot take the Coyotes lightly, especially if Bryzgalov is playing. The Coyotes played what was no doubt a tiring game last night in Chicago, so as long as the Wings come out flying, they should be able to carry the play. If they take a win for granted, however, they’ll be in trouble.