March 3: Look Ahead in Hockeytown

Red Wings face a four-game work week, including return to JLA after 31 day absence

Monday, 03.03.2014 / 12:00 AM
Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT – With the NHL trade deadline coming up this week don’t expect the Red Wings to make a splash … unless they can bag a bargain.

“We’re always looking to upgrade,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said last week. “If there’s a hockey trade out there – I call a hockey trade a trade that affects your team going into next season – I’m obviously open to it.”

Teams have until this Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST to complete a deadline deal. The Red Wings chose not to make a move last season as several core players returned from injury, helping Detroit make a late-season rally and a playoff berth. Holland is leaning toward a similar plan this time too.

“We had some unrestricted free agents last year,” Holland said. “We weren’t a buyer, we weren’t a seller, I felt if we could just get our team together we could play our way in, which we did. Other than (Henrik) Zetterberg, for the most part we’re healthy. … We’re probably the healthiest we’ve been since early December.”

Certainly, Johan Franzen’s hot start following the Olympic break helps boaster Holland’s position. Franzen missed 22 games with concussion-like symptoms that lingered since mid-December. But last week, with Zetterberg (back surgery) out for the rest of the regular season, Franzen found his scoring touch, producing five points in two huge wins last week at Montreal and Ottawa. His three-goal night against the Senators was his first hat trick since Nov. 8, 2011.

Center Stephen Weiss is expected to return to the lineup for the first time since he underwent sports hernia surgery before Christmas, and Pavel Datsyuk, who missed the third period at Ottawa, was given the weekend off to rest his injured knee.

“He’s got an ongoing issue, he’s going to have to deal with it,” said Holland, referring to Datsyuk’s injury. “We saw in the Olympics how he can play.”

Health is a major concern for the Red Wings who have a six-week sprint to the regular-season finish. The Wings will play 22 games in 41 days, including four in six days this week.

“We’re looking for two points every night,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It doesn’t always matter how you get them, it’s a matter of getting the two points.”

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

TUESDAY – at NEW JERSEY (26-22-13): This is the second of three meetings this season, and the first of two encounters this week. The Red Wings claimed a 3-1 win against the Devils on Dec. 6 at Joe Louis Arena. … The NHL’s least-penalized team, New Jersey began the week with the league’s top-ranked penalty kill at home, which is operating at 92.4 percent efficiency (85-of-92). The Devils are also allowing a league-low 25.2 shots per-game. They’ve allowed an Eastern Conference-low 57 goals-against at home and their 2.34 goals-against per-game ranks fourth in the NHL. … The Red Wings haven’t had great success in shootouts this season, fortunately, they haven’t been as atrocious as the Devils, who, since last season have a league record 12 straight losses decided by the skills competition. Even worse, New Jersey hasn’t scored a single SO goal this season as six different skaters are a combined 0-for-23. … Devils forward Adam Henrique had a power-play goal, a shorthanded goal and five shots in a 5-2 win over the Blue Jackets last Thursday. His eight total shorthanded goals since the start of the 2011-12 season are the most in the NHL. … Forward Damien Brunner (lower body) and defenseman Bryce Salvador (collarbone) are both out on a day-to-day basis. Brunner was a healthy scratch the last time the Devils faced the Red Wings.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jaromir Jagr became the seventh player in NHL history to score 700 goals, joining Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708). Jagr scored No. 700 in a 6-1 rout of the New York Islanders on Saturday. The 42-year-old Jagr leads the Devils in practically every offensive category, including goals (19), assists (33), points (52), plus/minus (21), game-winning goals (5) and shots on goal (159). He’s also produced six goals and 18 points with a plus-10 rating in his past 18 games.

THURSDAY – vs. COLORADO (38-17-5): This is the second and last game of the season series with Colorado. Daniel Alfredsson had three assists in a 4-2 win at Pepsi Center in Oct. 17. … The Avs are 7-3-0 in their last 10 road games and 18-9-2 away from home this season (.655). … Captain Gabriel Landeskog produced his third three-point game of the season when he scored once with two assists Friday. He has five goals and 15 points in his last 11 games, and his 51 points are one shy of his career best set in 2011-12 when he didn’t miss a game. Paul Stastny has 19 points in his past 16 games and forward Matt Duchene has five points in a three-game streak.. … Also last Friday, goalie Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves, establishing his personal career-high for single-season wins (29). He improved to 5-0-1 this season when making 40-plus saves. Varlamov is 13-3-1 in his last 17 decisions and his total wins rank second in the NHL only to Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (31).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Last Friday, Avs rookie Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists against Phoenix to extend his point streak to 10 games. MacKinnon became the first rookie to record a 10-plus game point streak since Chicago’s Jonathan Toews did so during the 2007-08 season. McKinnon’s linemate Stastny, who added a goal and an assist Friday, holds both the franchise and NHL records for longest point streak by a rookie (20 games in 2006-07). … MacKinnon leads all league rookies in goals (22), assists (25), points (47), power-play goals (8) and shots on goal (175). He had three SOG with a minus-1 in his first career game against the Red Wings.

FRIDAY – vs. NEW JERSEY (26-22-13): The Devils own the third best power play in the league on the road at 22.6 percent (25-of-101). In last Saturday’s win on Long Island, the Devils tied a season-high by scoring four power-play goals, a mark they first achieved in a 4-3 win at Boston on Oct. 26. … Ranked in the bottom third of the league in goal scoring, the Devils have been hot (pardon the pun) since the Olympic break. New Jersey has scored 11 goals in back-to-back wins against the Blue Jackets and Islanders, with six of those coming on 11 power-play chances. Jagr's goal Saturday was also his all-time best 123rd career game-winner. New Jersey also got three goals from defensemen Marek Zidlicky, Mark Fayne and Eric Gelinas, giving the Devils 28 goals this season from their blue line. … Henrique has three goals in two games, while Jagr and Ryane Clowe have also scored in consecutive games for the Devils. Veteran forward Patrik Elias has a goal and four assists over that span.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Goalie Cory Schneider has given up two goals or fewer in 14 of his past 15 starts. He ranks second in the NHL with a 1.85 goals-against average and is sixth with a .926 save-percentage this season. Since Jan. 1, however, he's first with a 1.51 GAA and a .940 save percentage among goaltenders who have appeared in at least 10 games. Between Schneider and Martin Brodeur, the Devils have allowed more than three goals in a game twice in the past 20

SUNDAY – at NEW YORK RANGERS (33-25-3): This is the third and final game between these Original Six rivals. The Rangers took the first two games of the season series with a 3-2 overtime win Oct. 26 in Detroit, and a 1-0 victory Jan. 16 at Madison Square Garden. … This game is the 13th of 14 scheduled games against Original Six opponents for the Rangers, who will host Toronto on Wednesday. Since 2005-06, New York has posted a record of 65-40-12 against Original Six teams, including a 3-4-1 mark vs. Detroit over the span. … The Rangers have allowed two goals or less in 36 of 61 games, including 13 of their last 17 contests, and in 10 of the last 11 at home. The Blueshirts are 28-8-0 when holding opponents to two goals or less. … Derick Brassard scored in New York’s 4-2 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday to extend his point streak to eight games, the longest by a Rangers’ player this season.. … The Blue Shirts agreed to terms with defenseman Dan Girardi on a six-year contract extension worth a reported $33 million. The 29-year-old Girardi has finished among the top six in the NHL in blocked shots in each of the last four seasons.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Henrik Lundqvist is just two wins away from becoming the 29th goalie in NHL history to reach the 300-win plateau. The Rangers goalie is 5-1-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in his past six games, and has allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of his last 13 games. Lundqvist is 12-4-1 with a 2.04 GAA, .933 save % with one shutout in his past 17 outings. He earned his third shutout of the season in a 38 save performance in a 1-0 victory over the Red Wings Jan. 16.

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