Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/31/13 at 07:32 PM ET
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Make no mistake about it, this year's game has an added ingredient thrown into mix: the absolute desperation of wanting those two points in the standings, knowing they could make the difference in making it come April. Neither one of these clubs has banked any kind of insurance in the standings.
"It's a huge game," veteran Wings forward Dan Cleary, eye-black dripping down his face, said Tuesday after his team's outdoor practice. "We understand it's a divisional opponent. We know where we sit. We know where Toronto sits. We need to get going."
There's raw tension to this matchup, pitting two clubs who have had their ups and downs -- mostly downs -- over the past while. Both Original Six rivals are tied with 45 points, each holding the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. It makes the New Year's Day tilt all the more enticing.
"I think that makes it even more important and special," said Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. "I heard some talk that it shouldn't be a division game, it should be East against West, but I think this is how it should be. It is two very important points on the line."
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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