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Abel to Yzerman

Red Wings-Panthers set-up: take down the tarps!

After registering 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Wings and their fathers/mentors took a 40-minute flight southeast to face the kind of team that usually gives them fits in the Florida Panthers, who they play tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Fox Sports Florida/WXYT).

The Panthers, who the Wings haven’t played since 2008, have a 24-25-and-7 record and sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind the 8th-place Carolina Hurricanes, and as they’ve lost five of their past seven games, including a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. They’re clearly a trade deadline “seller,” having already moved Michael Frolik to Chicago, and Bryan McCabe, who will probably return from a broken jaw tonight, Stephen Weiss, Cory Stillman and Tomas Vokoun, among others, are all in play as the Panthers prepare to clear the deck.

If you want to know about the state of the Panthers as a franchise, the Miami Herald’s George Richards offers the perfect preface to tonight’s game:

[Bryan] McCabe, out since Jan. 15 with a broken jaw, practiced again on Thursday and [Panthers coach Pete] DeBoer said he was probable for Friday’s much anticipated game against the Red Wings. All the tarps have been removed from the upper deck at BankAtlantic Center and a sellout is expected.

Yup, tarps cover the upper deck of the rink to hide the empty seats. The Panthers also tend to give away oodles of seats for lower-profile games, though their constantly-variable-pricing scheme will clearly yield a big profit from a full house, likely populated by a significant number of Wings fans.

Richards’ preview of tonight’s game reads as follows:

The series: Detroit leads 12-4-5.

The game: The Panthers have had 17 of their past 20 games decided by a single goal. Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia snapped a streak of eight one-goal games. The two teams have split the four games played since 2005-06; last year’s win was Florida’s first in Detroit since 1996. The Red Wings went into Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay with wins in three of their past four – including a pair of decisive wins against the Bruins.

And the Sun-Sentinel’s Ray Acquavita offers this capsule preview:

Scouting report: Friday marks the only time the Panthers (24-25-7) will face the Red Wings this season. Last season, Florida edged Detroit 2-1 in overtime, thanks to an OT goal by Bryan McCabe, who the Panthers will most likely have back in the lineup Friday, after missing a month with a broken jaw. Detroit leads the Central Division and played Tampa Bay on Thursday night. They’re 5-3-1 in second games of back-to-backs. The Red Wings (34-16-6 going into Thursday’s game) are second in the league in goals per game (3.3) while the Panthers are 23rd (2.6).

“Detroit represents some different challenges than Philly did,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “They use puck possession to try and pull you out of position so they can exploit the holes. We’ll have to play a patient, attention-to-detail type game.”

Acquavita also reports that the Panthers come into tonight’s game with a bone to pick with the referees:

DeBoer doesn’t like second-guessing officials but with 14 of the Panthers’ last 20 losses being decided by one goal, it’s tough to ignore another video review taking away a goal. In the second period of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia, Hockey Central in Toronto ruled that the puck Marty Reasoner kept jabbing at didn’t cross the line.

The replay shows Flyers wing Andreas Nodl obstructing any definitive view of the puck, so for the fifth time this season the Panthers were shot down by the replay honchos.

“It’s costs us games,” DeBoer said. “I understand how the NHL can look at that and say we can’t clearly see the puck crossing the line, but I look at it, and maybe you can’t see it clearly, but common sense tells you it can’t be anywhere else.”

Added [Marty] Reasoner: “It’s one of those breaks that hasn’t gone our way all year. The margin of error for us is so small and this league is so tight right now, if three or four of those calls go our way we’re talking about the playoffs.”

I tried to find a Panthers’ lineup via the Herald or Sun-Sentinel, but couldn’t find one, so here’s the lineup the Panthers used against the Flyers, per Litter Box Cats’  Derek Zona:

[Cory] Stillman - [Stephen] Weiss - [Jack] Skille
[Christopher] Higgins - {Marty] Reasoner - [Rostislav] Olesz
[David] Booth - [Mike] Santorelli - [Radek] Dvorak
[Darcy] Hordichuk - [Scott] Timmins

[Bryan] Allen - [Dennis] Wideman
[Jason] Garrison - [Mike] Weaver
[Keaton] Ellerby - [Joe] Callahan

[Tomas] Vokoun

I'm not sure whether the Panthers will start Tomas Vokoun or Scott Clemensen as Vokoun's familiar with the Wings, but was more and more regularly beaten by them during his tenure with the Predators.

As for the Red Wings, their lineup should remain intact from Thursday night's game against Tampa Bay with two changes--Ruslan Salei will return from California, hopefully with news of a happy and healthy birth of his third child, and, according to MLive's Ansar Khan, the Wings will start Joey MacDonald in Jimmy Howard’s stead.

The Wings’ lineup will look something like this:

Danny Cleary-Pavel Datsyuk-Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Todd Bertuzzi
Kris Draper-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller-Justin Abdelkader-Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall-Ruslan Salei

Joey MacDonald

NHL.com’s John Kresier provides an inclusive preview:

As I suggested in the first paragraph of this post, I’m very wary of this game. The Wings want to get on a real roll by earning a fourth straight win because their schedule gets a little crazy next week, starting with an 11:30 AM local time start in Minnesota (the game will air at 12:30 PM on NBC), then home games against San Jose and Dallas on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, before the Wings begin a lengthy road trip on Saturday the 26th in Bufffalo, and then double back to end the month by playing on the trade deadline (the 28th) in Los Angeles, March 2nd and 3rd in Anaheim and then San Jose and the 5th against Phoenix before heading back home for a 3-day break.

Long story short, the Wings play 9 games over the next 16 days, and are playing the second half of a back-to-back slate against the kind of team that they tend to take too lightly due to their place in the standings, and with both their fathers/mentors/friends and a bunch of Wings fans in attendance, the last thing the Wings want to do is try to put on a show.

They need to keep things simple and work hard to crack a team which Wings coach Mike Babcock actually suggested play a similar style to the Wings in a post-game interview on Fox Sports Detroit on Thursday night.

NHL.com’s John Kreiser provides the most well-rounded preview of tonight’s game:

Season series—It’s the only meeting of the season between the Panthers and Red Wings, who haven’t visited South Florida since winning 3-2 on Nov. 14, 2008. The teams haven’t played anywhere since the Panthers won 2-1 in overtime at Detroit on Nov. 20, 2009.

Big story—The Wings are coming off an emotional 6-2 win at Tampa Bay on Thursday, a game that marked the first time they’d ever played against a team that had Steve Yzerman (now the Lightning GM) on the other side. That game drew a large gathering of Wings fans to the St. Pete Times Forum—and Detroit’s first trip to Sunrise in more than two years figures to do the same. The up-and-down Panthers continue to struggle at home—they spotted Philadelphia a 3-0 lead on Wednesday, rallied within 3-2 but allowed an empty-netter in a 4-2 loss.

We don’t want to see a classic “emotional let-down game against a struggling team” game tonight…

Panthers [Team scope]—Time is starting to run out on the Panthers, who need a hot streak to avoid falling out of the playoff race in the East. Florida hasn’t been able to capitalize on its current homestand, losing again on Tuesday when a slow start against Philadelphia left the Panthers with too big a hole to climb out of. They are 1-3-0 as they enter the finale of a five-game homestand and have dropped six of their last seven at the BankAtlantic Center.
Who’s hot—Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings’ leading scorer, had a pair of assists against the Lightning and has 7 points during a four-game points streak. Jimmy Howard has stopped 86 of 91 shots during the three-game winning streak. … Florida defenseman Dennis Wideman has 2 goals and 5 points in the Panthers’ last five games.

Injury report—Detroit is still without forwards Valtteri Filppula (knee) and Mike Modano (wrist) and goalie Chris Osgood (sports hernia surgery), but got defenseman Brad Stuart back from a broken jaw on Thursday. … Florida could get captain Bryan McCabe back from a broken jaw. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (ankle) isn’t likely to play until next week. Forward Steve Bernier missed Wednesday’s game with flu-like symptoms.

Stat pack—The Wings have gotten points in their last 16 meetings with the Panthers. Detroit is 9-0-5-2 since Dec. 1, 1996. Detroit is 18-8-2 on the road this season, has won four of its last five and 10 of 14 its last 14 away from Detroit.

Cue Admiral Ackbar, and, ironically enough, the Panthers will play against the Lighting on Saturday.

Per the NHL’s media website, Stephen Walkom and Dan O’Rourke will referee tonight’s game, with Brian Mach and Johnny Murray working the lines.

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink


redxblack's avatar

Vokoun is a good goaltender. He’s up there with Rinne as far as someone difficult to go against. The Wings rarely see him, which makes it worse. If they can light him up early, we’ll get a Florida sweep. A slow start will be a long night.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 02/18/11 at 10:40 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Who’s hot—Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings’ leading scorer, had a pair of assists against the Lightning and has 7 points during a four-game points streak.

Now that the Wings seem to be clicking…I mentioned it last night….

What is with Z’s shooting percentage?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 02/18/11 at 12:07 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Agreed about Vokoun.  He’s always been a scary-good goalie, criminally underrated because he’s always played in hockey wastelands.  If he were on a big-market team, he’d most likely have a Vezina by now.

the Panthers will play against the Lighting on Saturday.

And if they can’t beat a bunch of Tiffany lamps and spotlights, then they haven’t got a chance.

for the fifth time this season the Panthers were shot down by the replay honchos.

Wow.  Hard to believe that there’s a team that has worse luck with waived-off goals than we do (especially because they don’t suffer from the Holmstrom Factor), but it’s even harder to believe that any sort of competent League management would put up with all this shoddy officiating and controversy apparently going on everywhere.  Oh wait…COMPETENT League management.  I get where I went wrong, sorry.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 02/18/11 at 12:10 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

OK boys - no let down tonight.  LET’S GO RED WINGS!!!!!

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/18/11 at 12:17 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

Consecutive games for the Wings against my fantasy goaltenders.


Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 02/18/11 at 12:25 PM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Red Wings-Panthers set-up: take down the tarps!

Cue Admiral Ackbar

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 02/18/11 at 12:29 PM ET

FranzensMouthguard's avatar

Lets get this started early!

Posted by FranzensMouthguard from Chicago, IL on 02/18/11 at 12:54 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Great work George - - you must be very nocturnal - and have access to a much better brew of coffee than me.  Excellent job.

Posted by mrfluffy from Cincy on 02/18/11 at 09:07 AM ET


Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 02/18/11 at 01:48 PM ET

pgoody's avatar

Wow, I forgot we even had Modano, hopefully he can come back as seamlessly as Cleary and Datsyuk have…

Posted by pgoody on 02/18/11 at 02:08 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 02/18/11 at 03:14 PM ET

SYF's avatar

All the tarps have been removed from the upper deck at BankAtlantic Center and a sellout is expected.

That variable-pricing policy?  No wonder there’s no greater effort from Gary.Ass’ retarded front office numbnuts to crack down on price-gouging; they let it go.

Andrew said it best:  Oh wait…COMPETENT League management.  I get where I went wrong, sorry.  You, sir, win the Gore.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 02/18/11 at 05:43 PM ET

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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