Wednesday night features a showdown between the two best teams in the Western Conference. The Canucks have but runaway with the President’s Trophy this season with the Red Wings the closest team to them in the West. Anytime they faceoff against one another, it’s a great measuring stick to see where each team stands. Usually that is the case anyway. On Wednesday night, we’ll see how the Canucks matchup with a team consisting of Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins as four of Detroit’s best players will be out of the lineup. So much for the “Duel in Detroit.”
Mike Babcock confirmed at practice that Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Jiri Hudler will all miss Wednesday’s game due to injury. Just for a point of reference, that means four of the Red Wings top ten scorers this season will be out for the game. The missing players have accounted for 71 goals and 108 assists for 179 points this season. On top of that, defenseman Ruslan Salei will be trying to re-acclimate himself to the lineup and Chris Osgood is questionable to back up Jimmy Howard. All the sudden, the Canucks missing Manny Malhotra and Mikael Samuelsson doesn’t seem as daunting.
Ignoring the injuries, it’s still a battle between two divisional leaders who very well could be on a collision course in the playoffs and possibly even the Western Conference Finals. Easily forgotten, the Red Wings had appeared in two straight Stanley Cup finals before injuries completely derailed their season last year. Despite their fair share of injures again, they’re sitting in 2nd place in the Western Conference and 4th overall this season.
On the other side of the rink, the Vancouver Canucks are the odds on favorite to make it out of the West and to the Cup Finals for the first time since 1994. They have three of the best forwards in the game (Sedins and Kesler), a deep defensive corps, and a Gold Medal winning goaltender. Yet for all of their talent, they’ve melted down the last two seasons when they faced the equally talented Chicago Blackhawks. There are plenty of people who will continue to doubt the Canucks until they can prove they can win in the playoffs.
Like the Red Wings.
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.