April 1: Week Ahead in Hockeytown

Red Wings sandwich another trip west with two home games

Monday, 04.01.2013 / 12:00 AM
Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT – Entering this week, the Red Wings must approach it with a short memory and put an abysmal 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday behind them.

“Just forget about it and move on,” said goalie Jimmy Howard, who allowed four goals before he was pulled in the second period of Sunday’s loss. “It's going to happen over the course of the season. Every team goes through it. You just got to be mentally tough and forget about it.

“It happens, stuff like this throughout the season. You can't explain it. We'll come back (Monday) and get right back into it.”

With just 13 games remaining, the Wings are facing another important week with upcoming games against Phoenix, St. Louis and two against Colorado. The Avalanche are in Detroit for a game tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

According to coach Mike Babcock, Howard will be back between the pipes on Monday.
 
With the exception of the season-opener – a forgettable 6-0 loss at St. Louis – the Wings have had tremendous success against the teams on this week’s docket. Detroit is 4-1-1 against the Coyotes, Blues and Avs.

Sunday’s loss was the second straight in regulation for the Red Wings, who hadn’t dropped two straight in more than a month. But the Wings desprately need wins, epsecially with several teams nipping at their heels in the Western Conference standings. There are six teams within five points of the Wings, who have 39 points.

But clearly, the Wings were bothered by the latest loss, especially since they’ve scored just once in the last six periods. Detroit lost a 2-0 decision at San Jose last Thursday.

“The bottom line is whatever we did (Sunday) was poor,” Babcock said. “And it doesn’t reflect well on us at all as far as our preparation goes. … So we have a game (Monday).”
 
The Red Wings have an off-day on Tuesday before they head west for back-to-back games at Phoenix and Colorado on Thursday and Friday. The Wings wrap-up their five-game season series against Blues with a nationally televised matinee on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. 

So, with that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:

MONDAY – vs. COLORADO AVALANCHE (12-18-4): Surprisingly, the last-place Avs have compiled a winning record against their foes from the Central Division, despite losing the first and only game to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 5. It’s no wonder that the Avs are in last-place as they continue to struggle killing penalties on the road, which coincidentally is also at the league bottom as Colorado has allowed 20 power-play goals on 64 attempts. Colorado is 2-12-2 when allowing a power-play goal this season. Last Thursday at Vancouver, the Avs did not commit a single penalty, marking just the second time in franchise history that Colorado did not get whistled for a single penalty in a game. The only other occasion came against the Red Wings, on April 9, 2000, when neither team was called for an infraction.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Right wing P.A. Parenteau has a five-game point streak, with two goals and five assists, and has 20 points in his last 16 games. Since Feb. 28, only two NHL players – Sidney Crosby (26) and Chris Kunitz (21) – have totaled more points. Parenteau had a team-high 18 points in 15 games in March, setting a new career-high for points in a single month. He signed with Colorado as a free agent last summer, and now leads the team in goals (14), assists (21) and points (35). His 14 goals are tied for the most of any NHL player who switched teams prior to the 2012-13 season, equaling Dallas' Jaromir Jagr, Minnesota's Zach Parise and Toronto's James van Riemsdyk. Parenteau's 34 points rank second among players who have swapped jerseys behind only Washington's Mike Ribeiro (35).

THURSDAY – at PHOENIX COYOTES (14-15-6): The Coyotes are 9-0-1 this season and 107-4-5 under coach Dave Tippett when leading after two periods. Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera has allowed three or more goals in each of his last three starts as he fills in for No. 1 keeper Mike Smith, who is nursing an upper body injury. LaBarbera has surrendered 11 goals and is 1-1-1 since replacing Smith between the pipes. His loss was a 3-2 setback to the Red Wings last week in Glendale. Smith and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) are both in injured reserve, but are listed as being day to day. Though he’s missed the last 10 games, Michalek still leads the Coyotes with 68 blocked shots.

PLAYER TO WATCH: One of the most fluid young defenseman in the league, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is among the Coyotes’ top offensive contributors. The 21-year-old defenseman is tied for first among all Phoenix blue-liners in scoring with 19 points, and leads the team with 16 assists. He ranks is tied for seventh among all NHL defensemen in points, and is first on the team with five multi-point games. Ekman-Larsson signed a six-year contract with the Coyotes on March 15. In eight career games against the Red Wings, Ekman-Larsson has been held to one assist with a minus-3 rating and 12 shots.

FRIDAY – at COLORADO AVALANCHE (12-18-4): The Avs have the league’s third-best penalty kill at home this season, successfully killing off 90.5 percent of their own penalties. … Colorado ranks second in the league with 586 blocked shots, trailing only Toronto (609). The Avs are blocking shots at a 17.2 per game average, which is the highest average of any team since the league began tracking the statistic. The season record is 17.1 blocks/per game, established by Florida in 2009-10. Individually, defenseman Greg Zanon leads the Avs with 85

blocks. He led his respective team, including Nashville, and finished among the league's top 10 in that category for five consecutive seasons from 2006-11.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Since signing a new two-year contract worth $10 million last month, Ryan O'Reilly has jumped toward the top of the team scoring race. After being held scoreless in his first two games this season, including the March 5 game at Detroit, O’Reilly has produced 13 points with four goals in 14 games in March, matching his career-high for points in a single month. He also had 13 points in February, 2012. … Like Mike Modano did when he signed with the Red Wings, O’Reilly now wears No. 90 this season, giving up on No. 37, which he wore the first three years with the Avs. Always a fan of No. 9, O’Reilly simply accepted the number that he was given when he arrived in Denver four years ago, because No. 9 was taken.

SUNDAY – vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES (17-14-2): The Red Wings haven’t seen the Blues since everybody and their brother were anointing them Stanley Cup favorites. Recently, the Blues had held opponents under 20 shots in four of the last five games, helping maintain their league leading mark of just 23.5 shots per game this season. The Blues also led the league last season in fewest shots allowed, while ranking second in 2010-11. … Patrik Berglund collected his first short-handed goal of the year on Feb. 13 at Joe Louis Arena. The Blues’ center is one of three NHL players with at least four power-play goals, two game-winning goals, and a short-handed goal this season. The others are Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg and Buffalo left winger Thomas Vanek. … This is the fifth and final meeting of the season series with the Blues. Despite allowing eight power-play goals to the Blues, the Wings are 2-1-1 vs. St. Louis this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The resurgent Chris Stewart enjoyed another incredibly productive month of March. For his career, the Toronto native has accrued 54 points in 68 games during March, while February is a distant second at 34 points in 60 games. All eight of the right wing’s goals last month came at even-strength, helping the Blues earn a +5 goal differential. Prior to

March, the Blues were No. 22 with a -6 differential. Stewart finished the month with 16 points. … Stewart is among a trio of Blues – the others are rookie Vladimir Tarasenko and center Patrik Berglund – with three goals against the Red Wings this season.

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