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Red Wings Take on Undefeated Chicago Blackhawks

January 27th, 2013 at 4:31 PM
By Frank Vajcner

What: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks

When: 7 p.m. tonight

Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Records: The Red Wings are 2-2-0, while the Blackhawks are 5-0-0

Coaches: Mike Babcock is 423-218-19-83 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 354-156-68 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Joel Quenneville is 629-382-77-80 in his 16th season as a head coach, and 191-99-39 in his fifth year with the Blackhawks.

Season series: The Red Wings went 2-3-1 against the Blackhawks last season. All six games were decided by a goal.

Red Wings update: The Red Wings' offense came to life in a win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday, as Todd Bertuzzi scored two goals in his first game of the year. The power play also got going with goals from Damien Brunner, who has been on a hot streak since scoring the shootout winner against the Blue Jackets, and Pavel Datsyuk. They were also bolstered by the return of center Darren Helm from a back injury, as his presence was felt on the penalty kill. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder) is expected to return to the lineup tonight. Winger Mikael Samuelsson (groin), and defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Ian White (leg) remain out.

Blackhawks update: The Blackhawks (5-0-0) are off to their best start since the 1971-72 season. Their most recent win was a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets Saturday. They rank in the top ten in goals scored (3rd), goals against (10th), power play (10th), and penalty kill (3rd). The Blackhawks are led in scoring by wingers Marian Hossa (5 goals, 2 assists) and Patrick Kane (2 goals, 7 assists). Goaltender Corey Crawford has played much better too, going 4-0 with a 1.99 GAA and a .923 save percentage.

POSITION GROUP BREAKDOWN

Centers: This will be a fun matchup down the middle among the top lines. Jonathan Toews is one of the best in the league. Datsyuk is better suited to go against him than Henrik Zetterberg in terms of faceoffs, so look for Babcock to put Datsyuk's line out against whatever line Toews is on. Dave Bolland has been known as a defensive pest, but he along with the other Blackhawks' centers have not been that strong in faceoff percentage. Zetterberg could have his way with Bolland.

Edge: Red Wings

Wingers: Kane has been more of a setup man than a goal scorer at this point, while Hossa has been the go-to man for goals. Patrick Sharp has been a thorn in the Wings' side in recent years. Bertuzzi scored three goals against the Blackhawks last season in six games, and also recorded a fight against Daniel Carcillo. Look for Bertuzzi to build off of his two goal outing against the Wild. Brunner and Kane played against each other in Switzerland during the lockout. Both teams have plenty of ammunition on the wings.

Edge: Blackhawks

Defensemen: Duncan Keith hasn't been the same since he won the Norris Trophy in 2010. Despite that, both he and Brent Seabrook are a solid pairing on the blue line. With Ericsson expected to play, he will likely go back to being paired with Niklas Kronwall. Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson have been better in terms of plus-minus than Keith and Seabrook. Expect Brian Lashoff to be paired with Kent Huskins for the Wings.

Edge: Even

Goaltending: Crawford has been solid against the Wings in his two seasons, but since he started last night, expect Ray Emery to get the start between the pipes. Emery started one game against the Wings last season (a 2-1 win last March). Jimmy Howard will start for the Wings. He posted a 2.25 GAA and a .918 save percentage in five starts against the Blackhawks last season. 

Edge: Slightly to the Blackhawks

Prediction: Consider that this is might be the biggest all-time rivalry in the NHL after Maple Leafs-Canadians. Consider that the Red Wings have made significant strides since the opener. Consider that the Blackhawks have one of the best offenses in the NHL. When you consider all of the aforementioned and then some, it looks like the home team wins a squeaker in overtime.

Make it: Blackhawks 2, Red Wings 1 in OT

Season Prediction Record: 2-2-0

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL

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