The Minnesota Wild host the Detroit Red Wings in a clash between two unlikely hot players: Wild center Kyle Brodziak and Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi.
Brodziak is a former cast-off from the fledgling Toronto Maple Leafs who is on the run of his young career. Brodziak now has 14 points in his last 14 games on the strength of a one-goal, two-assist performance in a 5-1 Wild against the Anaheim Ducks, with that goal coming thanks to an impressive feat of hand-eye coordination.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings come into this afternoon’s game with a four-game winning streak in some part due to the resurgence of once-shamed forward Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi will play in the 1,000th game of his NHL career today. It seems like the Steve Moore incident neutered his power forward game over the years, but he still has some serious skill, exhibited by the fact that he has three two-goal games during Detroit’s winning streak.
The Wild need a win almost as much as anyone else going into today’s game, with the possible exception of the Chicago Blackhawks. Two points would launch the 10th-place Minnesota team all the way to sixth place in the West, while a one-point output would create a five-way tie for that spot.
Detroit doesn’t have the same scent of desperation as Minnesota does, but they still have incentive to win. Obviously, there’s the less tangible goal of going into the rapidly approaching playoffs playing their best hockey, but there’s also the dangling carrot of the top spot in the West. They trail the Vancouver Canucks by a substantial seven points in that regard, but they do have two games in hand, so it’s not out of the question at this point.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
Trevor Daley, traded to Blackhawks for Sharp & Johns and to #Pens for Scuderi (who was flipped to LA for Ehrhoff) played 28:41 in G4 W.