Red Wings-Maple Leafs Preview
If the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs continue their
current levels of play, HBO will find itself covering a lot of
frustration leading up to the Winter Classic.
The participants in the NHL’s outdoor New Year’s Day showcase
have been struggling, though both will be looking to build on
victories Saturday night in their only matchup before meeting at
Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1.
Detroit’s roller-coaster season has hit another dip over the
past two weeks, as the Red Wings (16-12-9) have gone 1-4-2 in their
last seven. Offensive struggles have been the biggest culprit, with
Detroit totaling 12 goals in that span.
The injury-ravaged Wings topped the two-goal mark for the first
time in this stretch Thursday, with Daniel Alfredsson scoring his
second goal of the game in overtime on a power play for a 3-2
victory over Calgary. Detroit ended a nine-game OT losing streak as
well as its six-game overall skid.
“We have to stick to the program. We know if we have a good
effort every night, work for a full game we’re going to have a good
chance of winning games,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall told the
team’s official website after recording two assists. “If we do what
we’re supposed to do out there it doesn’t matter who’s in the
lineup we should be able to find a way to win. Tonight that was the
The HBO cameras following the teams through the outdoor game
have been featuring a Detroit club missing eight regulars, none
bigger than leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, who hasn’t played
since Dec. 1 due to a herniated disc. Second-leading scorer Pavel
Datsyuk, however, helped offset that absence Thursday with an
outstanding two-way game, recording three assists and a game-high
seven shots on goal while finishing plus-1.
“They had a little desperation and hunger in their game down the
stretch,” the Flames’ Mike Cammalleri said.
The Wings will now be trying to get on another hot streak in
this up-and-down season. They won five of six Nov. 24-Dec. 1 before
the current slump and went 1-3-5 prior to that surge.
Toronto’s slump has been a bit more prolonged than Detroit’s.
The Leafs (18-16-3) have dropped five of seven and are 4-8-2 in
their last 14.
Like the Wings, they earned a much-needed victory Thursday by
defeating Phoenix 2-1 in a shootout behind James Reimer, who made
“It hasn’t been a good feeling around here the past couple
days,” said winger Joffrey Lupul, who scored the winner in the
tiebreaker. “It’s funny how even with an ugly, grind-it-out win
like that, you come to the rink tomorrow feeling a lot better about
Lupul and James van Riemsdyk scored in the shootout for Toronto,
which has managed one non-shootout goal in each of its past three
The Leafs employed a harder forecheck and more aggressive
defensive zone play, though they were outshot 35-27 and 30-19 after
the first period.
“I thought we were pretty strong for pretty much the full 60
(minutes) and we did things the right way, so that was definitely
an improvement,” van Riemsdyk said.
Reimer started in place of No. 1 goalie Jonathan Bernier, who
was out with an undisclosed injury. His status for this game is
Toronto has taken four of the past five meetings with Detroit,
winning 4-3 at home in the most recent one Jan. 7, 2012. The Leafs
have won four straight in the series at Air Canada Centre,
outscoring the Wings 17-8.