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Abel to Yzerman

Red Wings-Wild live blog: The last last ‘gimme’ game

The Detroit Red Wings face off against an undermanned Minnesota Wild team this afternoon (5 PM EDT, FSD+/FS North/WXYT) with Pavel Datsyuk (but not Mike Modano or Niklas Kronwall) in the lineup against a team that should, to put it politely, provide the Wings with the “easiest” challenge in terms of their four remaining games.

The Wings will tangle with a Carolina Hurricanes team that’s on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture looking in as of this afternoon, and then the Wings have back-to-backs against a defending champion Chicago Blackhawks team that could very well be a first-round opponent depending on how things shake down over the course of this week, so this game is, at least in theory, the last “gimme” of the season.

As NHL.com’s David Kalan notes, the Wings could sew up the Central Division if they win today…

MINNESOTA (37-33-8, 82 points) at DETROIT (45-23-10, 100 points)

Where they stand: The Wild are 11th in the Western Conference; the Red Wings are third in the West.

What’s at stake: Minnesota’s postseason hopes are done, but there are a whole host of possibilities for Detroit Sunday. Beyond hopping over the Sharks for the West’s second seed with a win, a win in regulation or overtime would also give the Red Wings the Central Division title. The Wings also stand to take the crown if they win Sunday in a shootout and the Blackhawks either lose to Tampa Bay or defeat the Bolts in a shootout. If Detroit gets one point against Minnesota and the Blackhawks lose to Tampa Bay, the Wings will still take the Central.

How’s it going: The Wild lost to Tampa Bay Saturday afternoon, ending a brief two-game winning streak. Things are still tough in Minnesota, though. The Wild have won just two of their last 11 games. The Wings defeated Nashville in overtime Saturday afternoon, but Detroit has still struggled lately, winning just two of seven, including a shocking 10-3 loss to the Blues Wednesday at the Joe.

Upcoming: Minnesota travels to Vancouver and Edmonton later this week before finishing their campaign against the Stars Sunday evening. The Wings visit Carolina Wednesday night before ending the regular season with a home-and-home against rival Chicago.

Between MinnesotaWild.com’s Greg Andresen’s game-day preview and the comments made by Wild coach Todd Richards to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, one gets the feeling that the Wild have a tough task ahead of them in hanging tough with the Wings:

When I noted that Pavel Datsyuk looks to be returning today against the Wild, coach Todd Richards said sarcastically, “Datsyuk’s playing? Beautiful. Makes it even better.”

The Wild’s up against it tonight with veteran defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz hurt and veteran forwards John Madden and Martin Havlat back in Minnesota as well. The Red Wings look to be completely healthy, with Mike Modano apparently being taken out for Datsyuk.

Rookie center Carson McMillan will make his NHL debut on a line with Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz and Colton Gillies will play the left side of Matt Cullen and Chuck Kobasew. Mikko Koivu lines stays intact, as well as the Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck line. Rookies Clayton Stoner and Jared Spurgeon will be a tandem again and rookies Justin Falk and Maxim Noreau will be a tandem.

Richards will be looking for a much, much better game from veteran Brent Burns, who struggled yesterday against Tampa Bay, because today will be a much faster pace for the rookies to handle.

“It’ll be a good test for a lot of guys,” Richards said. “You get a feel of, ‘Can guys play at this level in a game like this.’ It’s no disrespect to Tampa. They’ve figured out a way to win and a way to play that allows them to be successful. But we’re going to go against a Detroit team that is free-wheeling and very skilled. They play fast. The reason why they’re able to play fast is because they can handle the puck. It’s a challenge. There’s motivation already coming in to play against Detroit in Detroit. Nobody wants to be embarrassed. This team is capable of embarrassing you if you’re not ready. And they were just embarrassed at home by St. Louis (10-3). I’m sure we’re going to get close to their best effort tonight.”

Jose Theodore, who won here in November, gets the start.

Also of Wings-related reading note as you prepare for this one:

• MLive’s Rob Otto weighed in on the significance of Saturday night’s win vs. Nashville;


• Gustav Nyquist and Riley Sheahan get some pats on the back from Hockey’s Future’s college hockey prospects notebook;

• The playoff moment of the day on the Wings’ Twenty Straight website involves the 1997 Stanley Cup win;

• And Mike Milbury of all people gave Nicklas Lidstrom praise on today’s NBC broadcast, as noted by Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon:

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Comments

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Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

02:46 DET Darren Helm (12) Wrist Shot - Assists: P. Eaves (7) & B. Rafalski (42)

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/03/11 at 07:16 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Fil has wide open eyes right now.  He’s playing wonderfully already.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:16 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

Ugh, The breakout is still a work in progress

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 04/03/11 at 07:17 PM ET

sjketcheson's avatar

Now THERE’S a 4th line shift!

Posted by sjketcheson from the floor of the Hasek on 04/03/11 at 07:17 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Helm all over the ice.  Now he’s setting people up in the slots in the offensive zone.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:17 PM ET

Rumbear's avatar

Howdy y’all…...up by one already?!!

MIN out with a lot of injuries but who the fuch cares???  No one gave a shit ‘bout the Wings injuries except Wings fans.

SYF…..I thought the same thing when I read that.  wink

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, hanging with Dan Cleary.... on 04/03/11 at 07:19 PM ET

monkey's avatar

If you don’t have an iPhone, why haven’t you killed yourself yet?

Posted by monkey from Finland on 04/03/11 at 07:19 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Bert, take the shot low and hope for a rebound.  Dammit.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 04/03/11 at 07:20 PM ET

monkey's avatar

Take the shot, dumbass.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 04/03/11 at 07:20 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Bert.  Please take the shot anyway.  Franzen will be there to pick up the reebies.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:20 PM ET

TheRealYooper's avatar

tick tock spoting.

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 04/03/11 at 07:20 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

If you don’t have an iPhone, why haven’t you killed yourself yet?

Posted by monkey from bat country on 04/03/11 at 05:19 PM ET

What does it say that I wanted to kill myself when I had one?

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 04/03/11 at 07:21 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Kindl playing possessed.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:21 PM ET

sjketcheson's avatar

Looks like the puck is bouncing over or off of Mules’ stick.. can’t seem to control it!

Posted by sjketcheson from the floor of the Hasek on 04/03/11 at 07:24 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Howdy y’all…...up by one already?!!

Posted by Rumbear from the sundrenched, cold, wet, streets of Sandy Eggo on 04/03/11 at 05:19 PM ET


OMGROFL.  Knock first.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:25 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Gag.

That song is so mediocre.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 04/03/11 at 07:25 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

Looks like the puck is bouncing over or off of Mules’ stick.. can’t seem to control it!
-sjketcheson

It’s been that way all year.  I hope it’s something simple like an equipment issue.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 04/03/11 at 07:25 PM ET

Rumbear's avatar

April, wheres my D?

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, hanging with Dan Cleary.... on 04/03/11 at 07:26 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Jimmy seeing shots all the way from the blue.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:26 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Egad!  The “April in the D” song sucks.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:27 PM ET

TheRealYooper's avatar

little cat scratch fever.

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 04/03/11 at 07:27 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Homer draws a penalty?  shocka

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/03/11 at 07:28 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Wings on the PP.  Get.The.Goal.Wings.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:28 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

Homer ...DRAWS a call? Sure?

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 04/03/11 at 07:28 PM ET

WestWing's avatar

Pavel back to being Pavel already.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 04/03/11 at 07:28 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

One thing I love about Homer:  When he gets tripped or interfered with, he very rarely stops skating and working.  That sells a call more than crying and throwing your hands up in the air.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 04/03/11 at 07:28 PM ET

Rumbear's avatar

Noice set up for the TPH!

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, hanging with Dan Cleary.... on 04/03/11 at 07:29 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Cannon shot from TPH from the blue and it just barely got caught by Threeorfour.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:29 PM ET

sjketcheson's avatar

It’s been that way all year.  I hope it’s something simple like an equipment issue.

Posted by ChrisinA^2 from Michigan, home of the Old Wings on 04/03/11 at 05:25 PM ET

Yeah, maybe his stick curve is backwards, or he’s using a right-handed stick…!

Posted by sjketcheson from the floor of the Hasek on 04/03/11 at 07:29 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

How many more years is Rafalski under contract for?

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 04/03/11 at 07:30 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Rafi ruined the PP.  Four-on-four hockey.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:30 PM ET

Rumbear's avatar

That could have just as easily been a non-call.

Posted by Rumbear from Top O the Hasek, hanging with Dan Cleary.... on 04/03/11 at 07:30 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Chris, one more year for Rafi.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:30 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

Rafalski fuching sucks at holding the line, btw. Such a weakass.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 04/03/11 at 07:31 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Kindl paired up with TPH on the Wings PK.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:31 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

How many more years is Rafalski under contract for?

Posted by ChrisinA^2 from Michigan, home of the Old Wings on 04/03/11 at 05:30 PM ET

One too many.  He’s a great offensive catalyst, but that $6m could be better spent.

Posted by RedMenace from the Church of Jesus Lashoff on 04/03/11 at 07:32 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Rafalski fuching sucks at holding the line, btw. Such a weakass.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 04/03/11 at 05:31 PM ET

There you are, Sully.  I was waiting on ya!

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 04/03/11 at 07:32 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Big E with some real hustle.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/03/11 at 07:33 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

Nice hustle by Ericsson

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 04/03/11 at 07:34 PM ET

Sullyosis's avatar

SYF, that Kindl TPH pair on the PK may just be due to a defenseman in the box.

Posted by Sullyosis from A hateful lair in Post Apocalyptic US (or Arizona) on 04/03/11 at 07:34 PM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com