Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 69: Detroit Red Wings

Pittsburgh Penguins (45-19-4) @ Detroit Red Wings (31-23-13)
Root Sports, NHLN-US, FS-D – 7:30 pm/et
Joe Louis Arena – Detroit, MI


The Detroit Red Wings are currently outside the playoff picture. The Red Wings haven’t missed the playoffs since the 1989-90 season. Olli Maatta, Beau Bennett and Simon Despres have never lived in a world where the Red Wings haven’t made the playoffs. In fact, Detroit has only missed the playoffs twice since 1984.

Kevin Allen at USA Today called this game the “Medical Woes Bowl.”

“The Penguins and Red Wings are leading the NHL in injuries this season. reports that the Penguins have 413 man games lost and the Red Wings were at 313 as of yesterday.

Detroit’s injury saga has moved well past epidemic stage, particularly with top pairing defenseman Jonathan Ericsson out four weeks or longer with a surgically repaired broken finger.

In their last game against Toronto, the Red Wings used 11 players who were with their American Hockey League affiliate Grand Rapids (Mich.) Griffins last spring. They have five centers – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson and Stephen Weiss – out of the lineup. Helm (concussion) is close to returning, though he won’t play tonight.

The Penguins, meanwhile, are without two of their top six defensemen, and top line winger Pascal Dupuis is gone for the season. Backup goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clotting problem) hasn’t played all season.

Pittsburgh’s situation is improving because Kris Letang (stroke) and Beau Bennett (wrist) are at least practicing now.”


Leading Scorers:
Penguins: Sidney Crosby (33G, 58A: 91P)
Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg (16G, 32A: 48P)

Starting Goaltenders:
Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (34-15-3, 2.34 GAA, .916 Sv%)
Red Wings: Jimmy Howard (15-16-10, 2.62 GAA, .912 Sv%)

Line Combinations: [Pens Visit Detroit]

Last Games:
Penguins: Defeated Dallas Stars 5-1.
Red Wings: Defeated Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2.

Officials Previews from Team Sites: [Penguins] [Red Wings]

Opposition Blog: [Winging it in Motown]
What They’re Saying:Penguins at Red Wings Preview

Even with points at a premium, I have this game chalked up as a loss. I’m not trying to be negative here. This isn’t a reverse jinx situation either. Unless the Penguins are playing the Flyers, they seem to be a pretty a good team. Yes, I know they have as many, if not more, injuries than the Red Wings, but they’re still good. It doesn’t really matter to me if their bottom six forwards are all AHLers. They have arguably the two best players in the world in their lineup and their top six makes up for the fact their bottom six is crap. I have a hard time realistically seeing Mike Babcock’s crazy band of characters knocking off Sid and Geno.

What Happened Last Time: December 14, 2013. Pens won 4-1.[Our Recap]

Sum of all fears. Is it a hamstring? A knee? No clue. All we know is that in a game where Malkin and Crosby dominate again, to see Malkin go down with what looks like a serious injury is sickening.

Jeff Zatkoff got the start in net again got a win. After a shaky beginning to his career, Zatkoff has been steady. Getting a win in Hockeytown with your backup ain’t no joke.

Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Marc-Andre Fleury. He’ll need to build up a lot of confidence going into the playoffs.

Red Wings Player(s) to Watch: David Legwand, because somehow the Red Wings ended up in a situation where he’s the center on their top line.

Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today’s Game: 

That kid is amazing.