Streaks are a funny thing in the NHL. When a team gets going on them they’re hard to stop and the team that puts them to an end isn’t always the team you’d expect. Last year the Pittsburgh Penguins went undefeated for the entire month of March. 15 victories in a row. The team that beat them on April 2nd? The Buffalo Sabers. Also last year, the Chicago Blackhawks had a point-streak that spanned 24 games, only to get dropped like a bag of dirt by the Colorado Avalanche. You’ll of course recall that the Buffalo Sabers had a pretty terrible year last year, and the Avalanche were so bad they ended up drafting first overall. Yet none of this matters because of one of the nicer things about hockey is almost any team can win on any given night. Those same Avalanche started the season quite well, winning six games in a row. Who put an end to that streak? Why the Red Wings of course…
These Anaheim Ducks are no Colorado Avalanche, however. The Ducks have only lost eight times so far this year, and their 73 points make them the number one team in the league without much of a threat to that coming from anywhere anytime soon. The closest teams are Chicago and Pittsburgh, both of whom have 68 points. There’s plenty of other ways to make this team sound scary (Won 16 of the last 17 contests, won the last six in a row, etc…) but most terrifying is the Duck’s home record this year of 18-0-2. That’s right, they’ve yet to lose in regulation on home ice this year. It’s going to take quite an effort if the Red Wings are going to put a “1″ in that column, and not everything is lined up in their favor. So click the arrows at the bottom of the page and have a look at the reasons why they might and might not pull it off tonight.
Reason they might not- Jimmy Howard
Howard has been pretty darn good since the Winter Classic. From stopping over 40 shots against the Stars, to also stopping over 40 shots against the Kings last night, the Red Wings live and die by Jimmy Howard’s play here lately. Despite getting outshot in every period last night, Howard kept the Wings in it to win it, Corsi be damned! So why is Howard a reason the Wings may not pull this off? No it isn’t the Sharks game last week where the entire team seemed to collapse in the second period. No, it’s that Howard reportedly sustained a hip flexor injury in last night’s contest against the Kings, per Ryan Dadoun of NBC Sports’ Pro Hockey Talk. It isn’t clear if Howard would have had the start anyway, given that he had just played last night and back-to-backs aren’t something you see too much of out of Detroit goaltenders. Howard still reportedly expects to serve as the back up, so the injury can’t be too bad, but not having the option might be forcing Detroit’s hand a bit. With Jonas Gustavsson still sidelined with a groin injury, look for Petr Mrazek to get the nod in net tonight. The same Petr Mrazek that came in to relieve Jonas Gustavsson when the Ducks rolled through Detroit earlier this year and won 5-2.
Reason they might- Ryan Getzlaf
Ah yes, Captain Snot Rockets himself. Getzlaf is a dominant force on the Ducks team and trying to shut him down is more than enough to keep the Red Wings’ defense busy. However, in a match up against the Phoenix Coyotes last night, Getzlaf was injured blocking a shot, and did not return. X-rays were taken according to James O’Brien of Pro Hockey Talk, and Getzlaf is considered day-to-day with a lower body injury. Getzlaf also said he might not play against Detroit in the same article as a precaution. You never like to see a player injured, but this really couldn’t come at a better time for the Red Wings. If he’s in the line up tonight, he probably won’t be 100%, and Detroit will have to try to take advantage.