What: Detroit Red Wings at Minnesota Wild
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Records: The Red Wings are 7-5-2; the Wild are 6-7-1.
Coaches: Mike Babcock is 428-222-19-84 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 359-160-69 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Mike Yeo is 41-43-12 in his second year as a head coach, all with the Wild.
Season Series: The Red Wings lead 1-0
Last Meeting: The Red Wings' offense came to life in a 5-3 victory. Todd Bertuzzi scored two goals, and Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Damien Brunner each scored for the Wings. Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of 26 shots in the win. The Wild were led by Zach Parise's two goals.
Red Wings Update: The Wings are coming off of a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday when they allowed three goals in the third period. Rookies Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar scored both goals for the Wings. Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in scoring with 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists). Datsyuk (14 points–6 goals, 8 assists) was missed dearly in the loss to Anaheim with a bruised shoulder. Babcock said he hopes to have him back in the lineup. The Wings will already be without Bertuzzi (back), Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Darren Helm (back), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), and Brendan Smith (shoulder). Mikael Samuelsson (groin) will return to the lineup. Petr Mrazek will start in net for the Wings.
Wild Update: The Wild are coming off of a 4-3 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Parise, Mike Rupp, and Mikko Koivu all scored for the Wild. Koivu (11 points–3 goals, 8 assists) and Parise (11 points–7 goals, 4 assists) both lead the team in scoring. The Wild will likely be without winder Pierre-Marc Bouchard (illness) and possibly defenseman Justin Falk (illness), in addition to not having goaltender Josh Harding (MS), who normally plays against the Wings. Niklas Backstrom will get the start in goal.
PLAYER POSITION BREAKDOWN
Centers: Both teams have a good one-two punch at center (Koivu and Kyle Broadziak for Wild; Zetterberg and Datsyuk for the Wings). Koivu will likely be matched up with Zetterberg. This will be the second game in a row that Zetterberg will face a Koivu (Mikko is the younger brother of Anaheim center Saku Koivu). If Datsyuk plays, he will likely face Broadziak. Datsyuk did say that it was better than 50-50 that he played, though he will be a game-time decision. If he doesn't play, Valtteri Filppula will move to center. Andersson has been solid at center since being recalled from Grand Rapids. The Wild are just not as steady down the middle.
Edge: Red Wings
Wingers: The Wild have only gotten scoring production out of Parise and Dany Heatley (8 points–4 goals, 4 assists). Devin Setoguchi is the next highest scoring winger with five points. With Franzen out, Danny Cleary will be on the top line with Brunner. Samuelsson will likely play on the second line with Justin Abdelkader, but a lot of this will depend on whether Datsyuk plays. If that's the case, Filppula will play wing on the top line, moving Cleary to the second line, and Abdelkader to the third line. Keep an eye on Tatar, as he is finding his stride in terms of scoring with two goals in the last two games. If Bouchard doesn't play, either Jason Zucker or Johan Larsson (both AHL call-ups) will take his place. Rupp was acquired in a trade with the Rangers to add grit; don't be surprised to see him and Jordin Tootoo drop the gloves.
Edge: Slightly to the Red Wings
Defensemen: Ryan Suter leads the Wild in ice time (27:30 per game), and has racked up eight assists. Expect him to be paired with either Tom Gilbert or Jared Spurgeon, who did not play in the last meeting. Nate Prosser will likely take Falk's spot in the lineup if Falk can't play. Niklas Kronwall has produced offensively with 10 points, but his rating is at minus-9. Brian Lashoff will be paired with Kronwall, with the only change for the Wings' blue line being Kent Huskins paired with Kyle Quincey.
Goaltending: Backstrom (5-4-2, 2.39 GAA, .912 save percentage) has been steady this season, but has struggled in ten career games (eight starts) against the Wings (1-4-3, 3.24 GAA, .911 save percentage). Mrazek will make his second career start after he stopped 26 of 27 shots in his debut against the Blues February 7.
Edge: Red Wings
Prediction: Even with all the injuries that the Wings have, players that are returning will be a benefit. The Wild have struggled to score goals all season, and will have a tougher time against Mrazek. Look for the Wings to get out of their funk and win on Hockey Day in America.
Make It: Red Wings 3, Wild 1
Season Prediciton Record: 7-6-1Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL