It was a little more than six months ago that the Detroit Red Wings failed in their pursuit of free agent defenseman Ryan Suter. Their defense has struggled through three games so far this season, and tonight they get a first look at Suter’s new team, the Minnesota Wild.
Dany Heatley has been leading the way for the Wild offense, with three goals and four points. The Minnesota power play has cooled a bit since converting two chances in the team’s first game against the Colorado Avalanche, but it is still ever dangerous with Heatley and Zach Parise. Josh Harding has a win and a shutout in net, while Niklas Backstrom is 1-1 with a 2.52 GAA.
It may be early in the season, but the Red Wings really need a win. Their defense has struggled in their three previous games, and their special teams play has been horrific. The team has not scored on the power play in 15 chances and has the league’s 29th ranked penalty kill. The top line of Damien Brunner, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg has had plenty of shots and plenty of opportunities but has just one goal (scored with four seconds left against the Dallas Stars) to show for it. The team gets Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm and Jakub Kindl back for tonight’s game but will still be without Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White, Jan Mursak and possibly Mikael Samuelsson and Jonathan Ericsson. Jimmy Howard will get the start in net, with Tom McCollum recalled from AHL Grand Rapids again to serve as his backup.
If this game becomes a special teams battle, the edge goes to Minnesota. Look for Wings coach Mike Babcock to shake up his top two lines if things still aren’t clicking. This will be a big test for Detroit’s struggling defense, as they try to shut down Parise and Heatley.