Update (7:13 PM): HockeyTownTodd has his usual pre-game numbers posted.
Also,Â PB of One Fan’s Perspective has posted on the Coyote’s win over Columbus last night and has some comments on the game tonight. - Matt
Update (2:16 PM): Richard Nickerson of Coyotes Corner has posted his preview of the game.
He has some good keys for the Coyotes, though the second one (physicality) has become a little bit outdated over the past 2-3 seasons. This Red Wings squad doesn’t get intimidated by physical play like the team has in the past. Their win over a very physical Ducks team last week is only the most recent demonstration of that change.Â - Matt
Update (1:50 PM): George Malik points out that Phoenix “super-pest” and NHL-leader in PIMs Daniel Carcillo returned to the lineup last night and will be dressed tonight.
It’s a shame Aaron Downey won’t be on the Wings’ bench, but I suppose Dallas Drake acts as a bit of a deterrent, as well. - Matt
Update (1:00 PM): Thanks to Sarah for pointing out in the comments the significance of the AHL move mentioned in theÂ 9:23 update below:
… the Redenbach loan was in exchange for the Griffins sending their current enforcer (ed. – Adam Keefe) to San Antonio (Phoenixâ€™s AHL affiliate) because Darren McCarty is expected to join the team, pending NHL clearance.
See Bruce MacLeod’s post on the McCarty situation. - Matt
Update (12:55 PM): A bit of a correction to the 12:37 update: Ansar Khan reports that the MRI results have not yet come back, but Lebda doesn’t consider the injury to be serious. - Matt
Update (12:37 PM): Bruce MacLeod has more details on Lebda’s injury, noting that, despite the fact that the defenseman participated in all three practices this week, the training staff prescribed rest.
An MRI was done on the wrist, but apparently no significant problem was found.
MacLeod says Lebda’s status for Friday and Saturday’s Colorado and Boston games will be determined tomorrow.
Helene St. James has some quotes from Lebda himself. - Matt
Update (12:20 PM): The Hockeytown Blog’s Ryan Doherty reports thatÂ Brett Lebda is out tonight with a wrist injury that he suffered during the first period of the Anaheim game.
Brett finished the game with 13:00 in TOI, so the injury can’t be too serious, but the team can afford to be cautious with him. He told Doherty that he’s day-to-day, leaving in question his status for Friday’s game against the Avalanche.
Derek Meech will take Lebda’s place in the lineup and should see time with Chris Chelios.
Doherty also indirectly confirms the return of Dallas Drake and Henrik Zetterberg by reporting Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis as healthy scratches. - Matt
Update (11:28 AM): It’s worth noting that Phoenix’s game in Columbus last night wasn’t your run-of-the-mill road win. The Coyotes came back from two deficits and scored three third period goals to pull out a 4-2 decision over a pretty solid Blue Jackets team.
Early on, there’s little doubt they’ll be pumped from vaulting into the 8th spot with the win, but they may start to run out of gas just as the game hits the third period, during which the Wings play their best defensive hockey. - Matt
Update (10:35 AM): As hot as Peter Mueller has been, Radim Vrbata has been hotter: he produced a hat trick last Thursday and netted one more goal last night to bring his total to four in two games. Expect him to receive some special shutdown attention tonight. - Matt
Update (10:30 AM): Officials for tonight:
Referees: Dave Jackson (8) and Tom Kowal (32)
Linesmen: Greg Devorski (54) and Scott Driscoll (68)
Via NHL Media. - Matt
Update (9:23 AM): OklahomaWingNut has posted his GDT at Kukla’s Forums.
Also, an AHL note: the Coyotes sent Tyler Redenbach to the Griffins on loan. - Matt
Tonight is the fourth and final game between these two teams this season. The Wings lead the series 3-0 with wins October 20th (5-2), December 1st (3-2), and December 29th (4-2).
The Coyotes are 9-3-1 in 2008, with their only losses coming to Edmonton (5-2, 10. Jan), Minnesota (4-1, 13. Jan), Columbus (4-3, 17. Jan), and Chicago (2-1 SO, 19. Jan). They began the month of January with four consecutive wins before they hit a patch of alternating wins and losses. Since the shootout loss to the Blackhawks on the 19th, they have won three in a row, including games against the Sabres (6-2), Predators (4-3 OT), and Blue Jackets (4-2). With the win over Columbus, which came last night, the Coyotes improved to 6-6-2 against the Central Division.
Phoenix is fourth in the Pacific Division, ahead of only Los Angeles. Their 27 wins and 56 points is good for the 8th spot in the West, though two other teams also haveÂ 56 points with fewer wins.
Shane Doan leads the Coyotes with 48 points, but Radim Vrbata is the leading goal-scorer with 22. Rookie Peter Mueller has five goals in his last five games, bringing his total to 15. Doan (16), Vrbata and Mueller are three of the five 10-or-more goal-scorers on the team; Steven Reinprecht (12), and Fredrik Sjostrom (10) are the others.
Dan Carcillo (knee) is the only Coyote listed as out.
Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start for Phoenix.
For the Coyotes’ perspective, see Coyotes Corner,Â Hip Shot Blog, One Fan’s Perspective (and this guest post at Behind the Jersey) and True Coyote Love.
In Coyotes news not related to the game, they are sponsoring PGA Tour golfer Jeff Quinney for a year. Bizarre.
The Wings are 8-2-1 in January, with two blocks of four wins sandwiching a three-game skid. They began the month with a pair of wins over Dallas (4-1, 3-0) and a win each over Chicago (3-1) and Colorado (1-0).Â They then lost in a shootout to MinnesotaÂ (6-5) on the 10th and proceeded to lose their next two games, beginning with a 3-2 decision in Ottawa. Three nights later, they dropped one to the Thrashers, 5-1. Beginning with a 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver on the 17th, however, the Wings pulled out of that skid and continued on with three consecutive road wins: San Jose (6-3), LA (3-0) and Anaheim (2-1).
Detroit is atop the Central Division, the West, and the League with a 37-10-4 record and 78 points.
Henrik Zetterberg is the team’s leading goal-scorer (28) and point-getter (61). Pavel Datsyuk is not far behind in points, with 58. Six Red Wings have 10-or-more goals: Dan Cleary (19), Tomas Holmstrom (19), Pavel Datsyuk (17), Valtteri Filppula (15) and Jiri Hudler (11). Hudler has not scored in five games, however, and is among the coldest of the Wings’ scoring forwards. Datsyuk is goalless in his last seven, making him the offensive forward most due for a breakout game.
The Wings should be healthy tonight, with Henrik Zetterberg (back) slated to return after missing two games. Dallas Drake (knee) is also scheduled to dress for the first time in five. Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis will both be healthy scratches.
Dan Cleary apparently won’t miss any more time after sustaining a nasty black eye in a fight with Chris Pronger in the first period against the Ducks on Wednesday. The swelling forced him to miss the game, but it has since gone down.
Bruce MaCleod provided the following lines from practice yesterday:
I suspect things will look somewhat different tonight:
As usual, expect some mixing there as the game goes on.
Chris Osgood is scheduled to start. That’s a good move by Babcock, who is no doubt looking to restore his goaltender’s confidence after the shellacking he suffered in the All Star Game on Sunday.
For more of the Wings’ perspective, see Snapshots, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, Red Wings Nation, yzerman is god, Detroit Hockey, LetsGoWings, and Winging It In Motown.
Tonight’s a key game for the Wings as they look to pick up where they left off before the Break. They are well-rested and should be ready to face a hot Phoenix team in what could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. The Coyotes are no longer pushovers and should make things interesting, though they won’t be all that fresh, having played in Columbus last night. If the Wings bring their “A” game, Phoenix will be hard-pressed to pull out another road win.