12:24pm :: Update :: Patrick Eaves is out of the lineup. See updated lineup below.
NOW, WHERE WERE WE?
The last game played between these two clubs was March 20 of last season. Chris Osgood was in net for the 6-3 ass-kicking, a game won on the strength of goals from Marian Hossa (36), Johan Franzen (30), Pavel Datsyuk (29), Jiri Hudler (21), Dan Cleary (14), and Brian Rafalski (10). The Wings improved to 48-15-9.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE THEN?
Atlanta finished 13th in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs by 17 points. They’ve actually had quite a bit of turnover and most of the notables were positive improvements:
Out – Garnet Exelby, Colin Stuart
In – Maxim Afinogenov, Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina, Steve McCarthy, Christoph Schubert
OH, HI AGAIN
One of the Thrashers’ alternate captains is Vyacheslav “You May Know Him Better as Slava” Kozlov. Kozlov was traded, in 2001, to the Buffalo Sabres when the Red Wings acquired Dominik Hasek. After only 38 games as a Sabre, he was flipped to Atlanta for draft picks.
BEST NAME NOMINEE
DID YOU KNOW…
The Red Wings beat the Thrashers in the new franchise’s second game ever? The score was 7-1, but Kris Draper didn’t get one: Atlanta is one of only two teams he has yet to score against (Florida is the other).
THEIR LAST GAMES
–Detroit lost to Nashville 3-1 on Monday.
–Atlanta lost in overtime to Tampa Bay 4-3 on Sunday.
–Detroit Red Wings :: 11-7-4 (xxx in Central, xx in West) :: 7-2-2 at home.
–Atlanta Bird/Rat Combos :: 10-7-3 (xxx in Southeast, xx in East) :: 6-2-1 on the road.
Before your head explodes seeing the third defense pairing, here’s an explanation from Uncle Mike, via Khan: the top two pairs from the Predators game will remain the same (Lidstrom with Ericsson; Rafalski with Stuart), Those pairings will play against the Thrashers top two lines. Then, the remaining defensemen (Lebda; Meech) will be paired with one of the top four and rotate. It looks like Howard will start, and Maltby is the scratch for the second game in a row.
Unknown — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Leino — Zetterberg — Cleary
Draper — Helm — Miller
May — Abdelkader — Maltby
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Ericsson — Stuart
Lebda — Meech
Patrick “Leads the Forwards in Plus/Minus” Eaves
Andreas “Swedish for Andrew” Lilja
Johan “Swedish for John” Franzen
Valtteri “Finnish for Walter” Filppula
Jason “Canadian for Mediocre” Williams
Niklas “Five Games Seems Fair” Kronwall
1. I can’t wait to see if Drew Miller can build off of his performance from the Nashville game. I’d love to see him get rewarded and bumped up to a scoring line again, because not only does it boost his confidence, it puts everyone who isn’t named Datsyuk or Zetterberg on notice.
2. Jimmy Howard gets the start following a fantastic showing by Chris Osgood. It looks like the starts are being rotated, which is a good idea considering how the games are stacked on top of one another.
3. I wonder how Brett “Brad” Lebda and Derek “Darren” Meech feel about being one of the “other defensemen.” It can’t do much for their confidence to know that they simply aren’t as trusted as the other guys, but if they thought they were, they have some sort of mental illness. That’s what we called a double-edged sword.
4. I love Darren Helm. I could literally watch him skate all game. TPL partner-in-crime Rob put it best during last year’s playoffs: it’d be worth paying $5 for a personal camera on him for a full game.
5. If I’m Ville Leino, I’m coming out of the locker room itching to score. He was dropped down to the fourth line in the last game, and I’m sure he’s feeling the heat…
WHAT WE LEARNED vs. the Predators
Now, I’m not going to mention any names, but the team AS A WHOLE took far too many offensive zone penalties. During two of the ensuing power plays, the Preds scored. Moral of the story is: stupid penalties give birth to losses, via goals against. As it were.
THRASHER WE COVET
Ilya Kovalchuk. Yeah, I know he wouldn’t fit in on Detroit’s roster, but homeboy is one of the ten most talented players on the planet.