A Detroit Red Wings team that was embarrassed at home on Sunday by the Chicago Blackhawks has an excellent chance to get back on track tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have not won on the road in their last 11 tries (0-8-3), and the Red Wings won the only 2013 meeting between the two teams, 2-1, on Mar. 5.
The Red Wings are expected to be without captain Henrik Zetterberg for a second straight game, and the Avalanche will be without Paul Stastny. The only Detroit player to score on Sunday was Cory Emmerton, who ruined the Blackhawks’ shutout in the final minute of play. In Zetterberg’s absence, Pavel Datsyuk needs to step up and lead the Wings’ scoring charge. He has no points in the last two games after two multi-point games in the previous games against the Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks.
Tonight’s game also provides the Red Wings defense a chance to return to form after a horrible game against the Blackhawks. Defensive leaders Niklas Kronwall (minus-4) and Jonathan Ericsson (minus-5) had an especially rough go of things on Sunday, while somehow Ian White managed to end up as the only player without a negative plus-minus rating while playing more than 20 minutes. In goal, Jimmy Howard will be looked to for a strong performance after allowing four goals before being pulled on Sunday.
As the Western Conference standings continue to tighten as the season’s final month kicks off, the Red Wings desperately need a win to move up from their current spot (seventh). The six teams trailing them are within five points or less, making it ever-important that Detroit starts winning again. The Avalanche have faint hope of reaching the postseason, and a loss tonight would put them closer to being eliminated from playoff contention.