Update (10:05 PM): If you’re looking to watch the game on FSN Detroit, they aren’t going over to it from the Tigers/Yankees game until the end of the 8th inning. It’s the bottom of the 8th right now, with 2 outs.
For those in the Detroit viewing area, the game is blacked out on Versus. So, hurry up, Tigers!
Good thing it’s a Versus broadcast, though. That’ll mean a slightly later start.
Also, Abel to Yzerman liveblog here. – Matt
Update (9:09 PM): IwoCPO’s got the key to the game for the Wings: “play the perfect road game.” - Matt
Update (2:38 PM): Adrian Dater reports that rookie TJ Hensick will play tonight in place of Smyth.
As for Forsberg and Hannan, he writes, “… weâ€™ll see. Iâ€™ll believe it when the lineup sheet comes out and heâ€™s not on the scratch list.”
Dater is pretty down on the Avs and their chances, that’s for sure. - Matt
Update (2:25 PM): In a couple posts, Bruce McLeod chimes in.
First, he reports that Henrik Zetterberg and Nick Lidstrom opted out of practice today. No worries, though, because the lineup is not changing. At this stage of things, players logging so many minutes can use as much rest as they can get, even if there was an extra day between games.
Second, McLeod reports that Scott Hannan “was hobbled walking around the arena.” That ought to make it easier for the Wings’ forwards to exploit the guy, if indeed he does play. - Matt
Update (2:04 PM): Ansar Khan reports that Smyth’s foot was injured when he blocked a shot in Game 2. He is day-to-day. - Matt
Update (2:02 PM): Helene St. James reports that both Peter Forsberg (groin) and Scott Hannan (foot) are “probable” for tonight, while Ryan Smyth (foot) is out.
This changes things a bit, as Smyth has been one of the Avs’ few bright spots thus far. Forsberg’s prospective return is now somewhat dampened. Fortunately for the Wings, the Avs just can’t seem to catch a break health-wise.Â - Matt
A win tonight is essential for the Avalanche. A loss would put them down 3-0 and would mean certain elimination. A win, however, makes this a series. Some keys for Colorado:
A strong start. The Avs have been outplayed in the early going in both games. They have to come out swinging. Even if they don’t score right away, early energy could keep the Wings off the board and keep the ice level.
Jose Theodore. He just has to be better.
Peter Forsberg. It looks like he’ll play, barring a setback today. Tonight is when we find out whether his teammates are really so bipolar that they only play well when he’s in the lineup. Tonight we find out whether or not Forsberg will make a difference in this series.
Wojtek Wolski remains out. Scott Hannan (foot) is questionable, but if the Avs are looking to throw everything at the Wings tonight, they may find a way to get him in.
The Wings went into Nashville and lost two straight, returning to Detroit with the series tied 2-2. They obviously don’t want to see that happen this time around. A win tonight is not essential, but for the purpose of breaking the Avs, it would be preferred, of course. Some keys for Detroit:
All business. They need to pick up where they left off in Game 2 and play dominant, businesslike hockey. They can’t let themselves be distracted by the crowd or the drama involved in Forsberg’s likely return. They just need to keep their heads, whatever happens. Included in this is the concept of never easing off the attack.
Power play. If the Avs go to the box, the Wings need to score. They have to send a message to not only the Avs, but the rest of the League.
Unit cohesion. My hope is that Babcock keeps the forward units and defensive pairings he used in Games 1 and 2 together. Anything else is just a concession to Joel Quenneville. Let the Avs try to shut down our top lines. They can’t stop both Franzen’s line and the Eurotwins. Let them try to exploit the fourth line. Helm, McCarty, and Hudler aren’t stooges.
Kirk Maltby (hamstring) could be ready to play tonight, though I would hope Babcock wouldn’t make a lineup change yet. Go with what’s winning.
I have every confidence in this Red Wings team. They appear to be serious about this run and aren’t taking anything for granted. They had all of that knocked out of them in the first round. Tonight should be a good game.