Detroit takes on its old Norris rival the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in a battle of the best vs the mediocre. All kidding aside, the Leafs have shown some improvement this season and are a threat to crack the top 8 in the Leastern Conference.
Though we don't see them as often as we should, Toronto always brings their A-game when Detroit comes to town. This season they are led by the surprising duo of Phil 'Dodgeball' Kessel, and Joffrey 'Not Jeffrey' Lupul, and filled in with a nice, young supporting cast of players like Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur.
Puck drops at 7 on FSD, CBC and NHL Network
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Jimmy Howard get the start tonight going for his 100th career victory, which would make him the 9th in team history and 5th fastest goalie of that bunch. He will go head to head with Jonas Gustavsson.
Let's hope Joffrey Lupul can stay out of the net tonight. that is all I will say about that, and I encourage you all to knock on wood right now.
Chris Conner returns to the lineup tonight in place of Joakim Andersson. I for one am very interested to see how a line of Nyquist, Emmerton and Conner click, it may be a perfect combination of skill, speed and grit.
Holmstrom and Helm are out for tonight and most likely tomorrow as well, this is where the Wings depth will shine.
A win tonight puts Detroit right atop the Central division with a game in hand, where the Blackhawks have been keeping our throne warm while we toy with their emotions. If the Couve loses to Boston this afternoon then the Wings would also be perched at the top of the Western conference where it could keep an eye on its kingdom.
Let's hope Jimmy can keep some gas in the tank and some momentum swinging as he will most likely be in net tomorrow vs the Blackhawks.
DETROIT RED WINGS TEAM NOTES
DET is 275-272-93-3 all-time vs TOR
DET is 105-165-47-1 all-time at TOR
DET is 6-3-0 in the first of back-to-back games this season
DET was 11-1-2 in the first of back-to-back games last season
DET is 67-3-4 the last 74 times they've scored 4+ goals in a game
DETROIT RED WINGS PLAYER NOTES
J. Howard leads the NHL in victories (24) and is on pace to win 50 games this season (NHL record - 48, M. Brodeur)
J. Howard is 6-0-0 (1.64 GAA, .945 SV%) in 6 starts vs Eastern Conference opponents this season
J. Howard is 8-1-0 (1.11 GAA, .954 SV%) in 9 Saturday starts this season
H. Zetterberg has tallied 3G-14A-17P in his last 15 games vs Northeast Division opponents
J. Franzen has recorded 5G-9A-15P in 11 Saturday games this season
J. Franzen leads the NHL in GWG (8) and is on pace to net 16 game-winners this season (NHL record - 16, P. Esposito & M. Goulet)
N. Lidstrom recorded his 1st and 2nd career NHL points (both assists) on 10/5/91 at TOR
N. Lidstrom is 3 assists behind P. Esposito for 21st place in NHL history (873)
V. Filppula has registered 3G-8A-11P in 11 Saturday games this season
D. Cleary scored the 100th goal of his NHL career on 11/7/09 at TOR
P. Datsyuk has tallied 4G-7A-11P in 7 games vs Eastern Conference opponents this season
P. Datsyuk is 2 goals behind S. Samsonov for 10th place all-time in NHL history amongst Russian-born players (235)
T. Bertuzzi has registered 6G-2A-8P in his last 9 games vs Northeast Division teams
ALL-TIME DET HAT TRICKS VS. TOR
George Hay vs. Toronto, March 6, 1928
Ebbie Goodfellow (4) vs. Toronto, Dec. 25, 1930
Syd Howe @ Toronto, Dec. 12, 1942
Mud Bruneteau vs. Toronto, March 12, 1944
Gordie Howe vs. Toronto, March 19, 1950
Gordie Howe vs. Toronto, Jan. 11, 1953
Dutch Reibel vs. Toronto, March 13, 1955
Howie Glover @ Toronto, Jan. 4, 1961
Norm Ullman vs. Toronto, Dec. 3, 1961
Gordie Howe vs. Toronto, Dec. 31, 1961
Norm Ullman vs. Toronto, Jan. 16, 1966
Norm Ullman @ Toronto, Feb. 8, 1967
Guy Charron vs. Toronto, Nov. 11, 1973
Phil Roberto vs. Toronto, Feb. 9, 1975
Steve Yzerman vs. Toronto, Dec. 23, 1983
John Ogrodnick vs. Toronto, Dec. 23, 1983
Ivan Boldirev @ Toronto, Feb. 19, 1984
John Ogrodnick vs. Toronto, Dec. 4, 1984
Steve Yzerman @ Toronto, March 30, 1985
Petr Klima vs. Toronto, April 7, 1988*
Jimmy Carson @ Toronto, Dec. 27, 1989
Steve Yzerman @ Toronto, Nov. 17, 1990
Paul Ysebaert vs. Toronto, Jan. 3, 1992
Dino Ciccarelli vs. Toronto, Apr. 29, 1993*
Brendan Shanahan vs.Toronto , Nov. 27, 1996
Kirk Maltby @ Toronto, Dec. 27, 1997
Lines for tonight per Khan
Discuss: Trade winds are starting to pick up and Detroit is expected to make a splash on or before the deadline. Some names that are being thrown around are Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Ales Hemsky and Tuomo Ruutu. What would you give up, and who would you target if you were in Ken Holland's shoes?