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Wings battle Blues for division lead

Fewer than 1,000 seats remain for this Central clash

Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:22 PM ET / Tickets
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Wings battle Blues for division lead
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DETROIT – The Red Wings and the surprising St. Louis Blues will take center stage this Monday with huge Central Division ramifications on the line at Joe Louis Arena.

With fewer than 1,000 seats remaining for what will surely be a terrific game, tickets for this Central Division clash will be a premium. CLICK HERE for tickets!

And what’s not to get excited about?

While the Blues have scored the fewest power-play goals on the road and their penalty-kill is in the middle of the pack, they continue to flirt with the league’s best teams, corralling 60 points – just one behind the Western Conference-leading Red Wings, who have won 15 straight at home.

Since coach Ken Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne in early November, the Blues have undergone a revitalization, instilling some toughness in a team that is 21-5-6 since the coaching move was made.

And like the Red Wings, the Blues also have a top-flight goaltender headed to his first All-Star game later this month.

Brian Elliott has enjoyed a phenomenal season, posting a 15-5-0 record and ranks second in the NHL with a 1.62 goals-against average, a .940 save percentage, and five shutouts, which ties his career-high. Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard continues to churn out one win after another for the Wings with his league-leading 27 wins and spectacular 1.98 goals-against average.

The Central Division championship will likely be a highly-contested battle down the stretch with four of the five clubs – including the Wings and Blues – currently among the top six teams in the Western Conference standings.

The Wings and Blues have already played four times this season with the home teams earning two wins each with three of the games determined by one-goal. The Wings have outscored the Blues, 9-7, with the strength of Pavel Datsyuk, Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall, who have garnered three points each in the season series. Drew Miller, Valtteri Filppula, Justin Abdelkader and Johan Franzen have collected two-points each in the four-games thus far.

“It’s been a battle, all four games have been back and forth,” said Howard, of the Blues. “Now we have to figure out a way to win one at their building, so we’ve won both here and we have to take it on the road.”

The Wings’ final road game of the regular-season will be at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center on April 4.
Hitchcock is an admitted Mike Babcock disciple. For years, the coaching friends have picked each other’s brains about schemes, strategies and philosophies, so obviously they have very similar coaching styles.

“I think we are in 95 percent agreement with how the game is played,” Hitchcock said about Babcock. “There’s one change defensively that we did than what they did, and then offensively it’s pretty close to the similar philosophy.”

Since his arrival, Hitchcock's teachings have clearly helped the Blues’ physical style.
“I think when things kind of ramp up in that area, that's kind of what we like,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk told The Associated Press. “That's what kind of drives us and doesn't allow us to really sit back, and kind of like Hitch always says, let our skill get ahead of our work.”

These clubs are meeting for the fifth time since Hitchcock joined St. Louis. The Blues won 2-1 on Nov. 15 and 3-2 on Dec. 6. The Wings prevailed in the next two games, winning 3-2 on Dec. 27 and 3-0 four days later.

Blues forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Ian Cole each earned three-game suspensions earlier this season for illegal hits on Kronwall and Abdelkader, respectively. Neither Wings’ players were seriously injured but the two Blues were hurt in the wallet, having to write checks to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, totally more than $67,000.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

Monday, January 23
WHERE: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
TIME: 7:30 p.m. EST
NBCSP (HD), TSN2, FS Detroit
RADIO: 97.1 FM The Ticket
TICKETS: Less than 1,200 tickets remain CLICK HERE | Meijer Coke Zero Family Packs
PROMOTIONS: Military Mondays


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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