It's another road trip for the Red Wings as they begin a two-game swing by facing an old nemesis.
What: Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche
When: 9 p.m. tonight
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Records: The Red Wings are 5-2-0; the Avalanche are 6-0-0
Coaches: Mike Babcock is 450-238-19-90 in his 11th season as a head coach, and 381-176-75 in his ninth season with the Red Wings. Patrick Roy is 6-0-0 in his first year behind the bench for the Avalanche.
Season Series: The Red Wings went 3-0-0 against the Avs last season. The last four meetings have been decided by one goal.
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Todd Bertuzzi|
|Johan Franzen||Stephen Weiss||Justin Abdelkader|
|Daniel Cleary||Joakim Andersson||Daniel Alfredsson|
|Drew Miller||Luke Glendening||Jordin Tootoo|
|Niklas Kronwall||Jonathan Ericsson|
|Kyle Quincey||Danny DeKeyser|
|Jakub Kindl||Brian Lashoff|
|Jonas Gustavsson (Starting)|
|Ryan O' Reilly||Matt Duchene||Steve Downie|
|Gabriel Landeskog||Paul Stastny||Alex Tanguay|
|Jamie McGinn||Nathan MacKinnon||P.A. Parenteau|
|Cody McLeod||John Mitchell||Patrick Bordeleau|
|Erik Johnson||Jan Hejda|
|Cory Sarich||Andre Benoit|
|Ryan Wilson||Nate Guenin|
Red Wings Update: The Wings are rolling along in the midst of a three-game winning streak, despite not having the services of Jimmy Howard (hand). The most recent win was a 2-1 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi scored while Jonas Gustavsson equaled his win total from last season by stopping 36 shots. Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in scoring with nine points (5 goals, 4 assists), and is riding a three game point streak. In addition to Howard, Darren Helm (groin) and Patrick Eaves (knee) are also out.
Avalanche Update: Is this Avalanche team this year's version of last year's Chicago Blackhawks who got off to a similar start? At this point, it's easy to say yes, but only time will tell. The Avs are coming off of a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Matt Duchene scored twice while Semyon Varlamov stopped 39 shots. Duchene (7 points–5 goals, 2 assists), P.A. Parenteau (7 points–3 goals, 4 assists), and rookie Nathan MacKinnon (7 points–1 goal, 6 assists) lead the team in scoring. While this team is a LOT better than they have been in the last few seasons, don't go handing them the Cup just yet, as it's very early on.
What to Watch For:
Feed the Mule: Johan Franzen has been an Avalanche killer in his career. He still has yet to find the back of the net this season. That only means tonight is when he erases the donut in the goal column.
The Kiddie Corps: MacKinnon was the top draft pick of the Avs in the 2013 Draft, and many pundits (including yours truly) picked him to win the Calder Trophy. Six games into the season, all the hype is surrounding San Jose's Tomas Hertl and Calgary's Sean Monahan. Even though MacKinnon is primarily playing third-line minutes, sooner or later he will gain the trust of Roy and start playing more and more. Besides MacKinnon, Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, and Gabriel Landeskog are all under the age of 25.
More Avalanche Barriers: In addition to Franzen, both Pavel Datsyuk and Alfredsson have given the Avs fits. Alfie has 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 18 games against Colorado, while Datsyuk has been a bigger terror with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 39 games, including the game-winning overtime goal the last time these two teams met.
What a Difference a Year Makes: Varlamov was wildly inconsistent for the Avs last season. He played only one game against the Wings and was benched after giving up three goals. This year, he has played much stronger. Most of his success is attributed to goaltending coach Francois Allaire, who oddly enough, was Roy's goaltending coach during his time in Montreal. Meanwhile for the Wings, Gustavsson has played strong in his last two games. However, he has never faced the Avalanche in his career.
War and Peace: During the 1990s, this was without a doubt the biggest blood feud in the NHL, thanks to this incident. Now, the venom between both teams is almost nonexistent. Even with Roy as head coach combined with the fact that he has been in hot water once this season, it's not likely we will see anything escalate to this level.
Prediction: Don't expect to see UFC on ice tonight. There's still a lot of hockey left to be played to see if the Avs are back to being a playoff team. If this game was at the Joe, I'd feel more comfortable saying Roy suffers his first loss of the year (which will happen soon enough). But it probably won't happen tonight.
Make It: Avalanche 3, Red Wings 2
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