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Penguins vs. Red Wings Game Preview

Sunday, 03.20.2011 / 7:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
41-23-8-90
Home: 22-13-2-46
Road: 19-10-6-44

WHEN: March 21, 2011 - 7:30 pm   |   WHERE: Joe Louis Arena
WATCH:
Versus  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Detroit Red Wings
Overall:
43-21-8-94
Home: 19-11-4-42
Road:
24-10-4-52

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings 
 
      
Danny Cleary
RW  -  #11
  23 Goals
  17 Assists
  40 Points
• Has established a new personal-best in goals with 23 despite missing 14 games after suffering a broken ankle on Dec. 26, and is two points from tying his career-high of 40 points.

• Paces the squad with six game-winning goals and had both a career-best eight-game point streak from Oct. 30 to Nov. 17 and a career-best goal scoring streak from Nov. 5-17.

• Has appeared in 736 career games with Detroit, Phoenix, Edmonton and Calgary and became the first native of Newfoundland to get his name on the Stanley Cup in 2008.
 
Valtteri Filppula
C  -  #51
  15 Goals
  19 Assists
  34 Points
• Has been injury-plagued the past two seasons, missing 26 games in 2009-10 with a broken wrist before missing eight-straight games with a lower-body injury from Feb. 9-24.

• Is tied for second on the team with five game-winning tallies and has two goals in his past three contests.

• The Vantaa, Finland native appeared in all 12 postseason contests for Detroit last season, notching nine points (4G-5A) over that span.
 
Brad Stuart
D  -  #23
  3 goals
  13 assists
  16 points
• Missed 15 games from Jan. 8 to Feb. 15 after a hit to the head from Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos gave him a broken jaw.

• Is quietly one of Detroit’s most dependable blueliners, ranking third on the team with an average of 21:26 minutes per contest and leading the Wings with 3:30 shorthanded minutes per game.

• The former No. 3 overall draft pick by San Jose in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft ranks third on the team in hits (117) and second in blocked shots (100), two areas which he led the team in last year.
At this time last year, it took a league-best 13-3-2 record following the Olympic break to catapult the Red Wings back into the playoffs position after a plethora of injuries to key players had them on the outside looking in. But this season, the Red Wings have returned to their elite brand of hockey, as they’re not fighting for their playoff lives this year – they’re battling to stay in second place. Although catching first-place Vancouver is a long shot since the Canucks hold a nine-point margin over Detroit, the Wings have a four-point lead over third-place San Jose and have won four of their last five games after dropping their first four games of the month.

Detroit’s woes last season primarily stemmed from long-term injuries to key players. The Wings have had quite a depleted lineup at times this season as well, seeing forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Mike Modano and Tomas Holmstrom sidelined for significant amounts of time. But Detroit has continued to find ways to win with their extraordinary depth. The Wings possess one of the most potent offenses in the league, as their average of 3.18 goals-per game ranks third in the league and they have 11 different players who have reached double digits in goals.

They’ve been led by the ever-steady Henrik Zetterberg, who is one of just three Detroit forwards (Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm being the others) to appear in all 72 games thus far. Zetterberg isn’t scoring as often as he has in previous seasons, but he’s helping others find the back of the net with his 52 helpers (good for fourth in the league). He is averaging a point per game and leads all Wings forwards with an average of 19:44 minutes per game.

Not only are the Wings deep up front, but they have one of the most solid back ends in the NHL, led by six-time Norris Trophy winner and captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who is showing no signs of slowing down at age 40. His 19th professional season is shaping up to be one of his best, as his 55 points (14G-41A) ranks third among league blueliners and he continues to specialize on the power play. Detroit’s blue line has also been bolstered by the returns of Brad Stuart and Brian Rafalski. Stuart, the team’s top penalty killer, returned on Feb. 15 after missing 15-straight games with a broken jaw, while Rafalski, a premier puck-moving defenseman, rejoined the lineup on March 16 after missing eight-consecutive games with a back injury.

Sophomore goaltender Jimmy Howard missed the last game against Pittsburgh with a bruised knee, but should get the nod between the pipes come Monday. Howard finished the 2009-10 regular season as a Calder Trophy finalist and as just the fourth Detroit goaltender to record 30-plus wins in his rookie season. He has gone 3-0 in his last four starts with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage, with his 34 wins tying for first in the league.
  • This is the second of two meetings in a home-and-home series between the teams, with the Penguins winning the first game at CONSOL Energy Center by a score of 4-1 on Jan. 18. Jordan Staal, Chris Conner, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke all scored for Pittsburgh, with Johan Franzen netting the lone Detroit tally.
  • Chris Conner’s goal in that game came on a penalty shot, Pittsburgh’s first successful penalty shot in a four-year span. The Penguins had been 0-for-12 on penalty shots since Jarkko Ruutu scored against Toronto on Jan. 20, 2007.
  • The two teams faced off in a home-and-home series during the regular season last year as well. The Penguins earned a 2-1 shootout victory on Jan. 31, 2010, with Sidney Crosby scoring the tying goal in regulation before he and Malkin tallied in the shootout. Crosby’s goal marked the Penguins’ first at home against Detroit in the regular season since Rico Fata’s on Oct. 13, 2003. In the teams’ second meeting on March 22, 2010, Henrik Zetterberg scored twice to give Detroit a 3-1 win.
  • The Wings have a few players who are questionable for Monday’s game. Pavel Datsyuk sat out Saturday’s game against Nashville with a lower-body injury suffered on Friday against Columbus and is listed as day-to-day. Johan Franzen also missed the tilt against the Predators with an undisclosed injury, but said he hopes to play Monday against the Penguins. Jiri Hudler has been sidelined with the flu for the past two games but also hopes to return against Pittsburgh.
  • Detroit’s four centers all have posted success rates of over 50 percent in the faceoff dot. Pavel Datsyuk leads with a 55.8-percent success rate, Darren Helm is second with a 52.8-percent success rate, Henrik Zetterberg has won 52 percent of his draws while Valtteri Filppula has won 51.2 percent of his faceoffs.
  • Two players who have posted impressive numbers against Detroit in the regular season are Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz. Cooke has 17 points (8G-9A) in 37 games played against the Wings, while Kunitz has 10 points (5G-5A) in 18 games played.

 

      
Shut Down Their Top Players: When they’re playing at home, Wings coach Mike Babcock likes to put Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on separate lines since he has the last change in order to spread their offensive depth. While Datsyuk is questionable for Monday’s game, the Wings still have plenty of dangerous offensive threats up top and the Penguins will need to play shutdown defense to keep them all contained – especially Zetterberg. Zetterberg tends to elevate his game when playing against Eastern Conference teams, as evidenced by his two-goal outburst in a 3-2 win over the Capitals on March 17 and by his 10 points (6G-4A) in nine career regular-season games against Pittsburgh.

Play Disciplined: Detroit is the NHL’s least-penalized team (tied) with an average of 8.9 minutes in the box per game. The Penguins will need to stay out the box against a team that doesn’t take many penalties, but tends to capitalize when their opponents do. The Wings are fourth in the league with a 21.5-percent success rate on the man-advantage, with Nicklas Lidstrom earning 34 of his 54 points while quarterbacking Detroit’s power play.
F Arron Asham, concussion (day-to-day)

F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)


F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss the remainder of the season)
D Brooks Orpik, hand (1 week)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (IR)
C Pavel Datysuk, lower body (day-to-day)
LW Johan Franzen, undisclosed (day-to-day)
LW Jiri Hudler, flu (day-to-day)
G Chris Osgood, sports hernia surgery (day-to-day)
D Ruslan Salei, personal (day-to-day)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Franzen (27)
A
Letang (38) Zetterberg (52)
PTS
Crosby (66) Zetterberg (72)
PIM
Rupp (120) Ericsson (77)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Rafalski (+14)
PP
Crosby (10) Franzen (10)
SH
Cooke (3)
Helm (2)
W/L
Fleury (31-18-5)
Howard (34-14-5)
GAA
Johnson (2.10) MacDonald (2.21)
SVP
Johnson (.921) MacDonald (.924)

Ben Lovejoy - On Sunday, Lovejoy sent a beauty of a breakout pass to the stick of James Neal, who immediately dished it to Jordan Staal for the score. That extended Lovejoy’s point streak to three games and has given him five points in his last nine contests. The 27-year-old blueliner, in his first full NHL season, scored his second tally of the season on March 15 versus Ottawa. He’s been thriving in an expanded role for the Penguins while Brooks Orpik is sidelined with a broken finger.
 
Darren Helm - Helm, normally counted on in a fourth-line grinding role, has scored three goals and five points in his last seven contests. The 24-year-old forward possesses explosive speed and tenacity with the puck, which makes him a tough player to play against and one of the team’s best penalty killers – as he averages three shorthanded minutes per game, which ranks second on the team. The sophomore center, whose 55.2-percent success rate in the dot is second only to Pavel Datsyuk, has tied the 11-goal output he posted in his rookie season (2009-10) and has established new career-highs in assists (20) and points (31). 
 
 
 
 

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WHEN: March 21, 2011 - 7:30 pm
WHERE: Joe Louis Arena
WATCH: Versus
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

At this time last year, it took a league-best 13-3-2 record following the Olympic break to catapult the Red Wings back into the playoffs position after a plethora of injuries to key players had them on the outside looking in. But this season, the Red Wings have returned to their elite brand of hockey, as they're not fighting for their playoff lives this year – they're battling to stay in second place. Although catching first-place Vancouver is a long shot since the Canucks hold a nine-point margin over Detroit, the Wings have a four-point lead over third-place San Jose and have won four of their last five games after dropping their first four games of the month.

Detroit's woes last season primarily stemmed from long-term injuries to key players. The Wings have had quite a depleted lineup at times this season as well, seeing forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary, Mike Modano and Tomas Holmstrom sidelined for significant amounts of time. But Detroit has continued to find ways to win with their extraordinary depth. The Wings possess one of the most potent offenses in the league, as their average of 3.18 goals-per game ranks third in the league and they have 11 different players who have reached double digits in goals.

They've been led by the ever-steady Henrik Zetterberg, who is one of just three Detroit forwards (Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm being the others) to appear in all 72 games thus far. Zetterberg isn't scoring as often as he has in previous seasons, but he's helping others find the back of the net with his 52 helpers (good for fourth in the league). He is averaging a point per game and leads all Wings forwards with an average of 19:44 minutes per game.

Not only are the Wings deep up front, but they have one of the most solid back ends in the NHL, led by six-time Norris Trophy winner and captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who is showing no signs of slowing down at age 40. His 19th professional season is shaping up to be one of his best, as his 55 points (14G-41A) ranks third among league blueliners and he continues to specialize on the power play. Detroit's blue line has also been bolstered by the returns of Brad Stuart and Brian Rafalski. Stuart, the team's top penalty killer, returned on Feb. 15 after missing 15-straight games with a broken jaw, while Rafalski, a premier puck-moving defenseman, rejoined the lineup on March 16 after missing eight-consecutive games with a back injury.

Sophomore goaltender Jimmy Howard missed the last game against Pittsburgh with a bruised knee, but should get the nod between the pipes come Monday. Howard finished the 2009-10 regular season as a Calder Trophy finalist and as just the fourth Detroit goaltender to record 30-plus wins in his rookie season. He has gone 3-0 in his last four starts with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage, with his 34 wins tying for first in the league.


INTERESTING STATS

* This is the second of two meetings in a home-and-home series between the teams, with the Penguins winning the first game at CONSOL Energy Center by a score of 4-1 on Jan. 18. Jordan Staal, Chris Conner, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke all scored for Pittsburgh, with Johan Franzen netting the lone Detroit tally.

* Chris Conner's goal in that game came on a penalty shot, Pittsburgh's first successful penalty shot in a four-year span. The Penguins had been 0-for-12 on penalty shots since Jarkko Ruutu scored against Toronto on Jan. 20, 2007.

* The two teams faced off in a home-and-home series during the regular season last year as well. The Penguins earned a 2-1 shootout victory on Jan. 31, 2010, with Sidney Crosby scoring the tying goal in regulation before he and Malkin tallied in the shootout. Crosby's goal marked the Penguins' first at home against Detroit in the regular season since Rico Fata's on Oct. 13, 2003. In the teams' second meeting on March 22, 2010, Henrik Zetterberg scored twice to give Detroit a 3-1 win.

* The Wings have a few players who are questionable for Monday's game. Pavel Datsyuk sat out Saturday's game against Nashville with a lower-body injury suffered on Friday against Columbus and is listed as day-to-day. Johan Franzen also missed the tilt against the Predators with an undisclosed injury, but said he hopes to play Monday against the Penguins. Jiri Hudler has been sidelined with the flu for the past two games but also hopes to return against Pittsburgh.

* Detroit's four centers all have posted success rates of over 50 percent in the faceoff dot. Pavel Datsyuk leads with a 55.8-percent success rate, Darren Helm is second with a 52.8-percent success rate, Henrik Zetterberg has won 52 percent of his draws while Valtteri Filppula has won 51.2 percent of his faceoffs.

* Two players who have posted impressive numbers against Detroit in the regular season are Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz. Cooke has 17 points (8G-9A) in 37 games played against the Wings, while Kunitz has 10 points (5G-5A) in 18 games played.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Shut Down Their Top Players: When they're playing at home, Wings coach Mike Babcock likes to put Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on separate lines since he has the last change in order to spread their offensive depth. While Datsyuk is questionable for Monday's game, the Wings still have plenty of dangerous offensive threats up top and the Penguins will need to play shutdown defense to keep them all contained – especially Zetterberg. Zetterberg tends to elevate his game when playing against Eastern Conference teams, as evidenced by his two-goal outburst in a 3-2 win over the Capitals on March 17 and by his 10 points (6G-4A) in nine career regular-season games against Pittsburgh.

Play Disciplined: Detroit is the NHL's least-penalized team (tied) with an average of 8.9 minutes in the box per game. The Penguins will need to stay out the box against a team that doesn't take many penalties, but tends to capitalize when their opponents do. The Wings are fourth in the league with a 21.5-percent success rate on the man-advantage, with Nicklas Lidstrom earning 34 of his 54 points while quarterbacking Detroit's power play.


WHO'S HOT

Ben Lovejoy - On Sunday, Lovejoy sent a beauty of a breakout pass to the stick of James Neal, who immediately dished it to Jordan Staal for the score. That extended Lovejoy's point streak to three games and has given him five points in his last nine contests. The 27-year-old blueliner, in his first full NHL season, scored his second tally of the season on March 15 versus Ottawa. He's been thriving in an expanded role for the Penguins while Brooks Orpik is sidelined with a broken finger.

Darren Helm - Helm, normally counted on in a fourth-line grinding role, has scored three goals and five points in his last seven contests. The 24-year-old forward possesses explosive speed and tenacity with the puck, which makes him a tough player to play against and one of the team's best penalty killers – as he averages three shorthanded minutes per game, which ranks second on the team. The sophomore center, whose 55.2-percent success rate in the dot is second only to Pavel Datsyuk, has tied the 11-goal output he posted in his rookie season (2009-10) and has established new career-highs in assists (20) and points (31).



Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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