Red Wings-Blackhawks Preview
Thanks to some inspired play from AHL callup Joey MacDonald, the
Detroit Red Wings hardly missed a beat while All-Star goaltender
Jimmy Howard healed from a broken finger.
With Howard expected to return to the net, the surging Red Wings
will try to collect a season high-tying seventh consecutive win
Tuesday night without leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk when they visit
the rival Chicago Blackhawks.
Detroit appeared to suffer a major blow when Howard fractured
his right index finger during a 4-3 shootout win in Vancouver on
Feb. 2, but after suffering consecutive defeats for the first time
in 6 1/2 weeks, the Red Wings quickly rebounded with MacDonald’s
The journeyman, who was recalled from Grand Rapids on Feb. 3,
led Detroit on a sweep of a six-game homestand and to an NHL-record
23rd consecutive victory at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, 3-2 over San
“Let’s be honest, if things weren’t going well, (Howard) would
have been in two or three games ago,” coach Mike Babcock said
following MacDonald’s 31-save effort. “Why would we when we had
some time for him to get better? So it worked out really well.”
Even with that gaudy streak, the Red Wings (41-17-2) remain only
five points ahead of St. Louis in the Central Division and two in
front of Vancouver in the Western Conference. That’s in part
because of a lackluster 15-15-1 road record, and now Detroit will
be without Datsyuk for two weeks after he had arthroscopic surgery
Tuesday to remove fragments from his right knee.
Datsyuk leads the Red Wings with 59 points.
Detroit will try to move on against a Blackhawks team that has
provided three very competitive matchups this season. The Red Wings
fell 3-2 at the United Center on Dec. 30 but recorded a pair of 3-2
overtime victories – one in Chicago on Jan. 8 and another in
Detroit on Jan. 14.
The Blackhawks might be ready to give the Red Wings another
challenge after winning three in row following an 0-8-1 skid. After
routing Columbus 6-1 on Saturday, Chicago (32-21-7) beat St. Louis
3-1 in its return from a season-high, nine-game trip the next
The Blackhawks, winners in six of seven at home, got some luck
that had been missing from some of their more recent games when
Dave Bolland’s pass through the crease in the third period went off
Blues captain David Backes’ stick and into the net for the go-ahead
“We learned a lot in that losing streak and brought those
lessons to this game,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We were able
to play a patient game and win it.”
Marian Hossa added an empty-netter for his third goal in four
contests following a six-game point drought. The winger has three
goals and nine assists during a nine-game point streak against his
Howard, whose 32 wins are tied for the NHL lead, will try to
stop that run with help from some extra padding in his blocker to
protect his finger and a modified stick that will be easier to
Even when fully healthy, Howard hasn’t appeared overly
comfortable against Chicago during his career with a 4-5-1 record
and a 3.06 goals-against average in 10 matchups. He has posted a
2.44 GAA while splitting two this season, and he’s 3-2-0 with a
2.99 GAA in five career games at the United Center.
The Blackhawks might start Corey Crawford, who has allowed a
combined four goals over his last three games after giving up 19
over his previous five. Crawford is 5-2-2 with a 2.20 GAA in nine
career games against Detroit.
Along with Howard, the Red Wings could get veteran forward Danny
Cleary back from an injured left knee Tuesday. Cleary has two goals
and an assist over his last three games in Chicago.
The Blackhawks will be without leading goal scorer Jonathan
Toews due to an upper-body injury.