Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Canadiens
Venue: Bell Centre; Montreal, Ontario, Canada
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: Detroit- FSD; Montreal- TSN
The Detroit Red Wings (26-20-12, 64 points, 5th place Atlantic Division) had hoped that the Olympic break would be a time that they could use to get fully healthy for the first time this season in order to make a push for a 23rd consecutive playoff berth. Instead they face the tough task without their captain and best player, Henrik Zetterberg, after he was required to have surgery on a bulging disc in his back. Zetterberg is expected to be out until mid April at the earliest, which means the Red Wings would need to secure a playoff berth if they are to see him again this season. Replacing some of the offense left behind will be Johan Franzen who is returning Wednesday night and Stephen Weiss who is expected back shortly. Franzen was beginning to heat up until he got hurt a couple weeks prior to the Olympics. Weiss has been a disappointed in his first season with the Red Wings, battling injuries and collecting only 4 points in only 26 games this season. The Red Wings will need those two, along with Pavel Datsyuk, to be big contributors on offense to help push the Red Wings into the playoffs once again.
One of the teams the Red Wings are chasing in the standings, the Montreal Canadiens (32-21-6, 70 points, 3rd place Atlantic Division) come into tonight’s game on a three game winning streak prior to the Olympic break. Tonight’s home game is one of only two out of their next seven games. The Canadiens are a tough team to play in their own building, as they have posted a 17-10-4 record their this season. Tonight’s game is a big game for the Canadiens, as is every game here on out. If they are able to come away with the victory, the Canadiens will open up an eight point lead on the Red Wings for the stretch run.
The Red Wings will turn to their Olympic goaltender, Jimmy Howard, for the start tonight. Howard had begun to play better prior to the Olympics after a roller coaster start to the season. The Red Wings will need him to come up big on a nightly basis, just like he did last year, if they are to get into the playoffs this season.
The Canadiens will turn to gold medal winner Carey Price in net tonight. Price continued his strong season during the Olympic run by giving up only three goals in the entire tournament. Price is the X-factor for the Canadiens this season, as they will only go as far as Price can take them.