Game Preview #9 - It's Probably Good *This* One Isn't On National TV

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets welcome in a Red Wings team that just man-handled the St. Louis team that man-handled the Jackets the night before. Transitive property sez: not good times.

Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets

February 2, 2013 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Winging It In Motown
SBNation Game Page
Tickets

Well, after Thursday night's, ehhh, lack-luster affair, the Jackets had a couple of nights to stay at home and rest. The Red Wings played last night, with Henrik Zetterberg beasting his way to a hat trick en route to a 5-3 win. That would be about the only advantage coming in for Columbus today: they didn't play yesterday, and perhaps after a huge win the Wings might be looking past them. We shall see.

Both clubs are dealing with their share of injuries, as Kent Huskins may be a game-time decision tonight for the wings. They have Todd Bertuzzi back (ugh), but Mikael Samuelsson is out. Jimmy Howard got crashed into last night, but with no Jonas Gustavsson the Wings are semi-forced to go with Howard again tonight. Detroit hasn't had anyone but Howard start a game yet this season, and Howard has played all but 18:45 of the season for the Wings. Methinks he might be a bit tired.

The Jackets will be with the same lineup as Thursday, as Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson remain on IR. Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin are also out. Steve Mason gets the start after some solid work in relief Thursday night.

The Wings have started scoring again after a slow start, but their defense still remains the big question mark, allowing 2.86 goals per game. Their special teams are especially concerning for Detroit fans, as they rank in the bottom chunk of the league in both categories. Detroit is one of only two teams in the league without a road PPG this season, however they scored two PPGs last night and a third during a delayed call (so, essentially a 6-on-5 PP if you will).

The Jackets' PK has been solid all season, and will need to continue to be tonight. In addition, Columbus has scored Power Play goals in each of the past two games, so perhaps they're working their way out of their PP funk. They tinkered with some changes to the points in morning skate, with Mark Letestu getting some time at the point with Jack Johnson, and Fedor Tyutin paired with James Wisniewski.

Even still, the Jackets are going to have to bring some kind of defensive funk and to get off to a good start (I'm not sure we've seen what that looks like for this team, honestly) to hold the Wings at bay. Both in terms of the score board and in the stands (considering it's not opening night this time around), I'm thinking it might be good that this game isn't on the nation telecast this time around.

Then again, as you all know, I'm of the cynical type.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(2-5-1, 5 Points; 5th division, 14th conference)

Derick Brassard Brandon Dubinsky Nick Foligno
R.J. Umberger Artem Anisimov Derek Dorsett
Vinny Prospal Ryan Johansen Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu Jared Boll
John Moore James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin David Savard
Tim Erixon Jack Johnson
Steve Mason
Sergei Bobrovsky

Detroit Red Wings
(4-2-1, 9 Points; 3rd Division, 7th Conference)

Damien Brunner Henrik Zetterberg Johan Franzen
Todd Bertuzzi Valtteri Filppula Pavel Datsyuk
Patrick Eaves Justin Abdelkader Dan Cleary
Drew Miller Cory Emmerton Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey Brendan Smith
Kent Huskins Jakub Kindl
Jimmy Howard
Thomas McCollum

Season Series

01/21/13 - Detroit 4 at Columbus 3 - SO
02/02/13 - Detroit at Columbus
02/21/13 - Columbus at Detroit
03/09/13 - Detroit at Columbus
03/10/13 - Columbus at Detroit

Head to Head

Detroit Columbus
2.71 (15) GPG 1.62 (29)
2.86 (19) GAPG 3.12 (22)
12.5% (24) PP% 13.2% (23)
71.4% (27) PK% 83.3% (9)
Henrik Zetterberg, 5 G leader three tied, 2
Henrik Zetterberg / Pavel Datsyuk, 7 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 4
Henrik Zetterberg, 12 Pts leader Fedor Tyutin, 5
Jordin Tootoo, 25 PIM leader Jared Boll, 40
1-1-1 Road/Home 1-2-1
2/1 vs St. Louis, W 5-3 Last Game 1/31 vs St. Louis, L 4-1
4-2-1 Last 10 2-5-1
    Game Notes
  • The Rooks - Well, there isn't much time to catch your breath, kids, but at least having a couple of days to get adjusted to Columbus, skate with the team on home ice, and try to develop some chemistry will hopefully help JAM and Tim Erixon. Hopefully David Savard has had a chance to get his legs going again, as well, after spending so much time not playing for the early part of the season.
  • Test Tube - It's hard to argue that Mark Letestu has been pound-for-pound one of the best Jackets since getting into the lineup several games ago. He's one of three players with two goal on the season, and his energy and ability to get to the net have been noticed. It's not a coincidence that the fourth line has been arguably the most consistent--in terms of production against expectations--over that same stretch. Test Tube has earned his ice time, and the fact that he may see some time at the point on the PP tonight is indication of how much faith his coaches have in his game right now.
  • Goaltending - There are legitimate question marks in both nets tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky did not bring his A-game Thursday, and the way Steve Mason came in and played in the relief role was nothing short of admirable; he gave the team a chance to get back in the game. That said, he's had some pretty nightmarish games against the Wings over the years, and Bob did play well against them in the home opener. On the other end, Jimmy Howard has got to be exhausted, having started every game and finished all but one. He played last night, and took a pretty good shot last night.

Fill the barn tonight, folks. We all know how the Wings fans descend like locusts, so let's send them home sour.

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