Never Satisfied: Wings on Quest to Earn President’s Trophy

After coming out of New York with a huge point against the Rangers, the New York Islanders hope to take steps in securing their playoff spot Thursday night in Detroit. The Islanders need to amass only three points in their final three games to knock the Rangers out for good. They take on a Red Wings team that is also hungry for points as the season winds down. Already conquering the Central Division, Detroit needs only to win their remaining three games to win the West. Doing so would also put them into contention for their second straight President’s Trophy.

On Monday night, Curtis Joseph posted his 5th shutout of the season as the Red Wings beat up on a shaky Predators team, winning 3-0. The victory was Detroit’s 20th in the past 24 games. The Red Wings have locked up first place in the Central Division, but surprisingly are still unsatisfied with their positioning heading into the playoffs.

”We’ve been climbing the ladder the last month or so. We wanted to finish first overall. That’s still our goal.”- Detroit Goaltender Curtis Joseph.

The Red Wings learned of some great news recently, as coach Dave Lewis announced that we should see Defenseman Jiri Fischer slip back into the line-up very soon. Lewis sighted Saturday’s game against Columbus or Sunday’s game against Chicago as the probable return dates. Lewis also went on to say that Fischer would not be playing in Thursday’s contest against the Islanders. Fischer went down with a knee injury early in the season in a game against the Bruins

The Islanders blew a two-goal lead in the third period against the Rangers, yet were still able to salvage an important tie. With three games left on their schedule, the Isles won’t be looking to pass up any more opportunities to solidify their spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Thursday’s game against the Red Wings will provide the opportunity for the Islanders to get two more points out of the way. If they are able to accomplish just that, they will only need a tie or an overtime loss against either the Thrashers or the Hurricanes to remain in the 8th and final slot.

-Players to Watch-
New York (I): #44 Janne Niinimaa (5 goals, 27 assists)- Solid defenseman who will be looked upon to contain some of the top offensive talent in the league in Detroit.

Detroit: #20 Luc Robitaille (9 goals, 20 assists)- Scored a big goal against the Islanders this season. Maybe “Lucky” Luc will have something up his sleeve during Thursday night’s game as well.

-Out or in Doubt-
New York (I): Kevin Haller D (Groin/Out)

Detroit: Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Season Series-
Game 1:December 17, 2002- Tie 2-2
Advantage:Undecided

-Between da Pipes-
New York (I): #30 Garth Snow (15-16-5, 2.33 GAA, .917 GAA, 1 SO), #39 Rick DiPietro (2-4-2, 2.74 GAA, .902 SV%, 0 SO)

Detroit: #31 Curtis Joseph (33-18-6, 2.47 GAA, .913 SV%, 5 SO), #34 Manny Legace (14-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
New York (I): Six players tied with 1 point vs. Detroit

Detroit: Six players tied with 1 point vs. New York (I)

The game will be televised nationally at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.

Black and Blue Wings Return Home to Host Preds

Only four games remain on the Detroit Red Wings schedule; yet their playoff fate is still unknown. Detroit will be assured the number one seed in the West if they can notch 2 points in all four of their remaining games. However, even if Detroit were to come out victorious in the rest of their match-ups, the positioning of the 6th, 7th, and 8th ranked teams are still undefined. Only one point separates the Ducks, Oilers, and Wild in the Western Conference standings. Their first step to nabbing first place in the West will be taken Monday night, when the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators.

Wasn’t Wrestlemania scheduled for Sunday night? That is what the Red Wings must have been thinking as they returned home after their passionate meeting with the St. Louis Blues. With the 6-2 blowout, Detroit added two more points to their total, which now stands at 104. One of Detroit’s biggest concerns, one that is surely present on all playoff contender’s coach’s minds, will be to remain healthy. After the type of game they were forced to play on Saturday, they are probably happy to be taking on the Nashville Predators

The last time Detroit met up with Nashville, they were facing a team that had their sights set on making the playoffs. Those hopes have since vanished, as the Predators were knocked out of playoff contention on March 25th with a 1-1 ties against the Flyers. A team that was only 3 points out of a playoff spot on March 1st must now regroup to go at it again next season. On Saturday night, the Predators were handed another loss at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers. It shall be interesting to see if the Predators can come crawling into the Joe with any passion.

The Red Wings are 2-1-1-0 against the Pred’s this season.

-Players To Watch-
Nashville- #29 Tomas Vokoun. Heart and soul of the Predator’s. He has participated in 65 games for Nashville this season, and his play has caused many to believe that he is the biggest reason the team had a shot at the playoffs.

Detroit- #17 Brett Hull. Notching another hat trick in the game against St. Louis, the old goat probably wouldn’t mind seeing his goal total exceed 40.

-Out or in Doubt-
Nashville- Andreas Johansson LW (Wrist/Questionable), David Legwan C (Collarbone/Out), Stu Grimson LW (Concussion/Out), Vladmir Orszagh RW (Shoulder/Questionable)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Between da Pipes-
Nashville- #29 Tomas Vokoun (25-27-11, 2.23 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO), #34 Wade Flaherty (0-1, 4.71 GAA, .852 SV%)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (32-18-6, 2.52 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO), #34 Manny Legace (14-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Nashville- Adreas Johansson (3 goals, 3 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit-#14 Brendan Shanahan (4 goals, 1 assist) vs. Nashville

The game will be televised locally at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX DETROIT.

5th Time a Charm? Not in Detroit’s Eyes…

“We’ve got to find a way to beat this team,”- Blues center Doug Weight.

The St. Louis Blues will be able to close the gap between themselves and Detroit to 3 points if they can knock off the Central Division leaders on Saturday. Key players are returning at the right moments for the Blues, who will welcome back former captain Chris Pronger, and also hope to see Valeri Bure one the ice for the first time in a Blues uniform. Bure was acquired from the Florida Panthers right before the trading deadline.

The Red Wings are continuing a short road swing that has thus far resulted in a disappointing loss to the lowly San Jose Sharks. They were blanked in the loss to the Sharks by rookie goaltender Vesa Toskala. The spanking knocked the Red Wings back down to second place in the West, and also made for the second time Detroit has been shutout in three games. Thursday’s loss to the Sharks marked the first time Detroit has lost with Captain Steve Yzerman in the lineup. The good news for the Wings is that they have a relatively easy schedule to end the year with. They will take on Nashville, the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Chicago Blackhawks over a span of seven days.

The Blues will be looking for their first win of the year against Detroit, and it’s not like they haven’t had their chances. In their last effort, the Blues were able to even it up with the Red Wings in the third period, but unable to get the go-ahead goal. They ended up falling 4-2, which made for their fourth loss of the season against Detroit. The Blues are currently on pace to face the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs. Both Colorado and St. Louis are tied with 97 points.

-Key Match-up-
D Barret Jackman (St. Louis) vs. LW Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit)- The two frontrunners for the rookie of the year award will both be skating in the same rink on Saturday. Henrik Zetterberg has played spectacularly for the Red Wings this season, while Barret Jackman has logged plenty of important minutes in the absence of veteran defensemen Chris Pronger.

-Out or in Doubt-
St. Louis- Jamal Mayers RW (Knee/Out), Keith Tkachuk LW (Wrist/Out), Martin Rucinski LW (Shoulder/Questionable), Rich Pilon D (Wrist/Out)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Between da Pipes-
St. Louis- #30 Chris Osgood (21-15-4, 2.77 GAA, .899 SV%, 4 SO), #35 Brent Johnson (16-12-5, 2.41 GAA, .903 SV%, 2 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (32-18-6, 2.52 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
St. Louis-Two players tied with 4 points. D Barret Jackman (1 goal, 3 assists), LW Cory Stillman (4 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- C Sergei Federov with 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) vs. St. Louis

The game will be televised nationally at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC.

Detroit in No Need of a Bigger Boat

The Detroit Red Wings are on the road again, this time on a trip to the West Coast to face the San Jose Sharks. With just a few games left to play, the only role left for the San Jose Sharks to fill is to be the spoilers. The Red Wings are in a hot race for the top spot in the West, and cannot spare any more points this season if they wish to remain on top.

It was only last year that the San Jose Sharks were one game away from advancing to the Western Conference finals. Yet you wouldn’t know it if you were to take a look at them today. Dead last in the Pacific Division with only 68 points, the Sharks have been forced to rebuild once again. Just this season, they have said goodbye to head coach Darryl Sutter, franchise player Owen Nolan, and most recently general manager Dean Lombardi.

“This season has been a struggle and clearly has not progressed as any of us expected. We feel this move is a necessary step in returning the San Jose Sharks to the postseason next year.””” President Greg Jamison

Lombardi is credited for the transformation of the Sharks in the 90’s, but it seems like in the NHL, having an ugly year can cause higher-ups to have a sudden loss of memory. In the Sharks last game, the Tampa Bay Lighting got the win 4-1, which was good enough to advance them into the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Tuesday night turned out to be a night of retribution for the surging Red Wings. Two nights after being shut out by the Wild 4-0 in Minnesota, the Red Wings returned the favor as Curtis Joseph turned away 18 shots to earn a 4-0 shutout. With a comfortable lead over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division, the Red Wings are focused on making a run at having home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. As of right now, Detroit is lined up to face the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton took the season series against Detroit, winning two of the four meetings and also earning a 1-1 tie. After the game against the Sharks, the Red Wings will head to St. Louis to take on the Blues.

Detroit is 3-0 against the San Jose Sharks this season, outscoring them 14-9.

-Player To Watch-
San Jose- #8 Teemu Selanne (25 goals, 35 assists). Leading the team with 60 points, Selanne appears to be one of the only Sharks left with any bite.

Detroit- #40 Henrik Zetterberg (21 goals, 19 assists). Looks to be a lock for the rookie of the year award at the end of the season. Zetterberg has been everything the Red Wings could have hoped for, and then some.

-Out or in Doubt-
San Jose- Brad Stuart D (Concussion/Out), Matt Bradley RW (Broken Wrist/Out), Mike Ricci C (Back/Questionable), Scott Thornton LW (Concussion/Out), Wayne Primeau C (Back/Questionable)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out)

-Between da Pipes-
San Jose- #20 Evgeni Nabokov (19-27-6, 2.73 GAA, .907 SV%, 3 SO), #29 Vesa Toskala (3-2-0, 2.38 GAA, .923 SV%, 0 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (31-17-6, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
San Jose-Two players tied with 3 points. #18 Mike Ricci (3 assists), #25 Vincent Damphousse (2 goals, 1 assist) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov with 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) vs. San Jose

The game will be televised at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX BAY and locally on UPN50.

Wings Look to Avoid Another Wild Night

The second half of a home at home series between Minnesota and the Detroit Red Wings is set to pan out Tuesday night at the Joe. The Wild brought the mighty Wings back down to earth Sunday night at the Xcel Energy Center, stuffing four pucks into the net in route to shutting out the Red Wings. Back in Motown, Detroit will be looking for a chance to break down Minnesota’s conservative defensive style.

After the convincing win against Detroit Sunday night, the Wild found themselves locked into a playoff spot for the first time in their three-year history. Backed by the solid play of goaltenders Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson, nobody will be looking past the Wild in this year’s quest for the cup. Minnesota has picked up two-points against the Dallas Stars twice this month, and they were also able to get the better of the New Jersey Devils. If the playoffs were to start today, the Wild would be in position to take on Vancouver.

Detroit would like to rebound from Sunday’s loss against the Wild in a big way. Having their six game winning streak snapped caused them to once again be dead even with the Dallas Stars for first place in the West. Vancouver is also breathing down the Red Wings neck, as they find themselves only one point behind both clubs. Curtis Joseph will likely get the start in net after Manny Legace was only able to deny 17 of a possible 20 shots on Sunday. Steve Yzerman will also be back in the lineup.

-Player To Watch-
Minnesota- #30 Dwayne Roloson. Dwayne’s 33 save performance against Detroit Sunday night was no fluke, just look at the numbers he has put up this season. If he gets the start, look for him to attempt to shut it down once again.

Detroit- #19 Steve Yzerman. After getting that first goal out of the way, will the floodgates open?

-Out or in Doubt-
Minnesota- Bill Muckalt RW (Shoulder/Out), Brad Bombardir D (Back Spasms/Out), Cliff Ronning C (Flu/Questionable), Rickard Wallin C (Hand/Out)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out), Thomas Holmstrom LW (Flu/Questionable)

-Between da Pipes-
Minnesota-#35 Manny Fernandez (18-11-2, 2.37 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO), #30 Dwayne Roloson (21-14-8, 1.89 GAA, .931 SV%, 4 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (30-17-6, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%, 3 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-5-3, 2.06 GAA, .929 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Minnesota- C Wes Walz with 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- Six players tied with 2 points vs. Minnesota

The game will be televised at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time locally on UPN50.

Wings cling to Western Conference lead heading into St. Louis

The St. Louis Blues will be welcoming the Detroit Red Wings to the Savvis Center with open arms on Saturday, as it will be one of their last chances to gain some ground on the current central division powerhouse. The Blues trail Detroit by 5 points in the standings, and currently sit fourth among all teams in the Western Conference. For St. Louis, there is no more time to waste if they wish to make a bid for the top spot in the conference.

Led by the former Red Wing netminder Chris Osgood, the Blues come into the battle winners of their last 3 games. After having goalie issues throughout much of the year, the Blues are hoping to find the answer in Ozzie. Osgood has won every game he has played in a Blues uniform, most recently stopping 24 of 26 shots against Anaheim to lead St. Louis to a 3-2 overtime victory. Pavol Demitra lit the lamp twice to earn his 31st and 32nd goals of the season in the win over the Ducks.

It looked as if the Red Wings may have been in for an upset in the early moments of their game against the Penguins. But unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they soon woke up to score 5 unanswered goals as they improved their season mark to 43-18-9-3. Detroit’s leading point-getter Sergie Federov registered two of those five goals. The Red Wings will be venturing to cling to the top rung of the Western Conference ladder for the remainder of the season, as they are in pursuit of having home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. It will be no easy task with teams such as Vancouver, Dallas, and St. Louis continually posing a threat the Detroit’s supremacy.

The Blues haven’t been able to find a way to win against Detroit so far this season. They hope to be handed a better fate this time around, as they fell to the Red Wings by an embarrassing 7-2 score in their last meeting.

-Player To Watch-
St. Louis- #30 G Chris Osgood- Osgood is sure to be fired up for the opportunity to defeat his former mates. Earlier this season, Osgood held Detroit to only two goals to give the Islanders a tie against the Red Wings.

Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov- Has notched a respective 7 points against the Blues this year, and is coming into the contest on a roll.

-Out or in Doubt-
St. Louis- Chris Pronger D (Knee/Out), Jamal Mayers RW (Knee/Out), Keith Tkachuk LW (Wrist /Out), Rich Pilon D (Wrist/Out), Valeri Bure LW (Knee/Out)

Detroit- Jiri Fischer D (Knee/Out), Jesse Wallin D (Knee/Questionable)

-Between da Pipes-
St. Louis- #30 Chris Osgood (20-14-4, 2.84 GAA, .897 SV%, 3 SO), #35 Brent Johnson (15-11-5, 2.44 GAA, .900 SV%, 2 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (30-17-6, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%, 3 SO), #34 Manny Legace (13-4-3, 2.01 GAA, .932 SV%, 0 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
St. Louis #5 Barret Jackman with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #91 Sergei Federov with 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) vs. St. Louis

The game will be televised nationally at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on ABC.

Wings Flying High into Mellon Arena

A team that was only able to muster 5 wins over a 17 game span to begin the new-year now once again find themselves back on top of the Western Conference. Since their disastrous start to 2003, the Detroit Red Wings have gone 15-1-0-1 en route to becoming the National Hockey League’s elite franchise once again. Tuesday night Detroit will look to expand upon the gap between themselves and the rest of the West when they touchdown in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to take on Mario Lemieux and the Penguins.

In many ways this game will serve as a break for the Red Wings, who are coming off of big wins over Colorado and the eastern leading Ottawa Senators. Look for Steve Yzerman to be back in the line-up after sitting out Sunday’s game against the Sen’s. The Red Wings are 8-0 when their captain has laced up his skates. Much of the credit for the win over the Senator’s has been given to Curtis Joseph. Cujo turned away 41 shots to keep Detroit’s winning ways intact. The line of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Brett Hull have been one of the main sources of Detroit’s recent surge in offensive production by collectively notching 71 points over the past 17 games. They will certainly be looking to capitalize on the recent woes of the Pittsburgh Penguins

The stripped down Penguins have been playing uninspired hockey as of late. Losing power forwards Jan Hrdina and Alexie Kovalev have caused the Penguin’s general manager to admit that they just can’t compete right now in the NHL. Playing a financially stable red-hot team like the Detroit was probably not the first thing that they wanted to deal with. The sixty-point Penguins are currently buried under four other teams in the Atlantic Division. One of the only bright spots for the franchise remains player and owner Mario Lemieux. Number sixty-six leads the team with 28 goals and 59 assists. The Penguins fell to the Florida Panthers 4-2 in their last effort.

Earlier in the season, the Red Wings, led by a Sergei Federov hat trick and a two goal performance by Luc Robitaille, squashed the Pen’s 7-3.

-Player To Watch-
Pittsburgh-#66 Mario Lemieux (28 goals, 59 assists). Who else? Always a pleasure to watch skate.

Detroit- #17 Brett Hull (33 goals, 35 assists). A big reason why Detroit was able to hold off the Senators on Sunday. Hull will be looking to add to his season total against the struggling Pen’s.

-Out or in Doubt-
Pittsburgh- D Joel Bouchard (Broken Jaw/Out), D Josef Melichar (Shoulder/Out), D Michal Rozsival (Shoulder/Questionable), C Milan Kraft (Groin/Out)

Detroit- D Jiri Fischer (Knee/Out), D Jesse Wallin (Knee/Questionable),

-Between da Pipes-
Pittsburgh- #31 Sebastien Caron (5-12-1, 2.77 GAA, .912 SV%, 2 SO)
Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (30-17-6, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%, 3 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Pittsburgh- #66 Mario Lemieux with 2 points (2 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #23 Mathieu Schneider with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) vs. Pittsburgh

The Game will be televised locally on Fox Detroit at 7:30 p.m. eastern time.

Showdown in Motown

A rivalry that has revolved around a lot of blood, sweat, and few tears will once again be on display this weekend. The Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche will hook up for the final time of the season on Saturday. The Avs currently have the season series lead by a one game margin, but the Wings will be looking to even things up Saturday afternoon at the Joe.

Detroit is coming into the game with only one regulation loss since losing two in a row 15-games ago. Both of those losses came at the hands of Colorado. The Red Wings have picked up 27 out of a possible 30 points during their current stretch, and now have a 5 point advantage over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. Detroit is returning home after a 3 game western road swing that saw the Red Wings lose to Anaheim and then go on to pick up wins in both Los Angeles and Phoenix. Newly acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider donned the red and white for the first time since being traded from L.A. in the win over the Coyotes, and immediately helped to take some of the load off of Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom by logging over twenty-three minutes of ice-time.

Meanwhile, a resurgent Avalanche team now sits only 4 points behind Vancouver for the northwest division lead, and is in 4th place overall in the Western Conference. Much of their recent success can be attributed to the recent play of goaltender Patrick Roy, who after a slumping start to the season has gotten back to his expected level of performance. Colorado’s most recent game saw them beat up on the Blue Jackets 5-1. Joe Sakic netted a natural hat trick in the blowout, scoring all three of his goals in the first period.

-Player To Watch-
Colorado- #20 Bryan Marchment (D) (2 goals, 9 assists). Will the Avs’ new goon look to make his presence felt in this ongoing rivalry? You can bet on it. Called the dirtiest player in the league by many, Marchment will likely not miss his chance to take the hatred felt by both clubs to a whole new level.

Detroit- #23 Mathieu Schneider(D) (14 goals, 30 assists). The Wings’ newest d-man has no time to settle into his new home. It will be interesting to see how Schneider responds to the intensity that is always present when these two teams meet.

-Out or in Doubt-
Colorado- No major injuries to report.

Detroit- D Jiri Fischer. Even with the addition of Schneider, the Wings are still relying on the return of Fischer for the playoffs. Fischer’s presence is certainly missed in games such as these.

-Between da Pipes-
Colorado- #33 Patrick Roy (28-13-12, 2.23 GAA, .918 SV%, 3 SO)

Detroit- #31 Curtis Joseph (28-17-6, 2.59 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO)

-Most Points This Season vs. Opposition-
Colorado- 3 tied with 3 points. #21 Peter Forsberg (1 goal, 2 assists), #23 Milan Hejduk (3 goals), #40 Alex Tanguay (1 goal, 2 assists) vs. Detroit

Detroit- #14 Brendan Shanahan with 3 points (3 goals) vs. Colorado

The Game will be televised nationally at 3:00 p.m. eastern time on ABC.