7:30 -- Joe Louis Arena
Wings: 31-15-6 (68 points) 2nd in West | Rangers: 29-22-4 (62 points) 7th in East
I'm going to try and re-jump-start my writing by pretending like you will read a TTD game preview (It won't work. In fact, I think it was a Super Bowl prop bet). Now's as good a time as any considering the apparent return of our fallen egg-headed hero:
(Khan) "Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Pavel Datsyuk is expected to return to the lineup Monday at home against the New York Rangers. Datsyuk has missed 19 games with a broken right hand."
We went 10-7-2 with Pavel nursing his dominant dangling hand, and seemed to have a tough time battling inconsistency, the other team's offense, and most of all, sheer boredom. Pav makes any hockey game 65% more watchable with his presence, and I'd have to assume he makes the game more fun to play for his teammates. Even on the bench. One time Datsyuk told Tomas Holmstrom a joke during a TV timeout, to which Homer replied, "I don't speak Martian, but I bet that joke was really fucking funny." Then he went out and scored a double hat trick and became a licensed elephant trainer all before the start of the 3rd period. This team has missed their best forward in ways that numbers can't measure. So here's some numbers:
In the first 33 games before the injury, the Wings allowed 2.64 goals per game. In the 19 games since, they've allowed 3.21, and also, they suddenly can't score. (By the way, no Stanley Cup-winning team has ever been shutout back-to-back games in the regular season. Did that scare you at all? Because I completely made it up. It happened to the 2007 Anaheim Ducks.) The jump in goals allowed obviously isn't entirely due to one man's injury, but rather a whole bunch of injuries, and probably our seemingly annual, seemingly unavoidable mid-winter malaise, and probably Doug Janik to some degree (I'm just whoring for cheep applause at this point). But that multiple Selke-winning guy being out of the lineup sure didn't help.
I expect a big spark to re-enter the lineup tomorrow as the Wings slowly get back into winning form.
3-2 Wings. Two assists from Pavel and both Ranger goals scored by Henrik Lundqvist's new buddy Justin Bieber.