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Venue: Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Television: National- NBC Sports Network
It’s been nearly nine months sine the Detroit Red Wings (21-18-10, 52 points, 6th place Atlantic Division) were knocked out of the playoffs after giving up a 3-1 series lead, but the feeling is still there that it was just yesterday. This is one game that all Red Wings fans have been waiting for all season. It is the chance to get revenge for that series which slipped away in the blink of an eye.
Struggling behind an anemic offense, the Red Wings have only scored more than one goal in one of their past four games, and have only been able to muster four goals in that stretch, one thanks to a lucky non-reviewable call against the Kings. The Red Wings have been struggling on defense as well during that stretch, giving up nearly 40+ shots a night. Just like last season, the Red Wings have had to rely on their goaltender to bail them out of many situations night after night.
The defense will get a much needed lift when Jonathan Ericsson returns from an injury that has kept him sidelined for a number of weeks. Though they lost their starting goaltender once again last game to a knee injury, the Red Wings will also get Jonas Gustavsson back in time to start tonight’s game.
The Chicago Blackhawks (32-8-11, 75 points, 1st place Central Division) took full advantage of the Red Wings inability to close the series out last May as they went on to win the final three games of the series and eventually go on to win the Stnaley Cup. They have continued the surge this season that began last season as they have dominated most opponents on a nightly basis. Backed behind an offense that is number one in scoring in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks trail only the Anhaeim Ducks, by 4 points, for the best record in the NHL. They come into play tonight having won 3 of 4 games and their past two. The Blackhawks were able to sweep the season series from the Red Wings last season and will look to win the first of two meetings this year against the club.
Starting in net for the Red Wings will be Jonas Gustavsson. Gustavsson will be replacing an injured Jimmy Howard. This will be Gustavsson’s first game and first start since coming back from a lower body injury that seems to have hit the rest of the Red Wings as well. Prior to the injury, Gustavsson was playing very steady hockey for the Red Wings and was giving the team quality starts at a time when Howard’s play was up and down.
The Blackhawks will counter with Corey Crawford tonight against the Red Wings. Crawford has always played well against the Wings, and was the starter for the four regular season games last year that the Blackhawks swept. Crawford was also able to level out his play in the series against the Red Wings to make it possible for the Blackhawks to complete the comeback.