The Detroit Red Wings (2-2) will attempt to hand the Chicago Blackhawks (5-0) their first loss of the 2013 season in tonight’s NHL Central Division showdown, the first meeting between the two teams this year.
The Blackhawks have been nothing short of spectacular so far, with former Red Wing Marian Hossa leading the way. Hossa has five goals and seven points so far, after returning from a concussion suffered during the 2012 playoffs. Patrick Kane’s nine points lead the team, while Dave Bolland, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews have all scored multiple times as well. Between the pipes, Corey Crawford has played surprisingly well, and has four wins to show for it. His 1.99 goals against average is as much a testament to his strong play so far as it is to the defense in front of him. Chicago has won its last three games by a one-goal margin.
The Red Wings finally got their offense clicking in a Friday night win over the Minnesota Wild. Damien Brunner, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored in the win, while Todd Bertuzzi netted two goals in his first action of the season. That result should see Mike Babcock stick with the same line combinations for tonight’s game, as it seemed to spark both of the top two lines to a stronger performance. Jimmy Howard will get the start again tonight, his fifth straight. Backup Jonas Gustavsson continues to be bothered by a groin injury, which could make for a long, busy season for Howard. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing three games, and will strengthen a defense that performed well Friday, blocking more than 20 Minnesota shots.