April 22: Week Ahead in Hockeytown
Wings finish regular season with three at home, finale in Dallas
Giveaways for the night include (10) $100 Kroger Gift Cards, (1) $100 Tim Horton's Card, and a lucky row of 2 tickets to an upcoming show at Soundboard inside Motor City Casino Hotel
April 24: Hockeytown Thanks Fan Appreciation Week continues with a poster giveaway courtesy of Walgreens for the first 10,000 fans. Giveaways for the night include a $500 luxury Motor City Casino Hotel experience package, Antonio's Cucina Italiana Gift Cards, Tim Horton's Gift Cards, a $1,000 scholarship to University of Toledo and more.
April 25: Hockeytown Thanks Fan Appreciation Week concludes with a full arena giveaway of tote bags, courtesy of Amway. Other giveaways include a year's supply of Jack Links Beef Jerky, overnight stays at Motor City Casino Hotel, $1,000 scholarship to University of Toledo, air hockey table, golf bag, gift cards and more!
Tickets for this week's games are still available, including the Coke Zero Meijer Family pack. Call 313.471.7575 for more information.
By Ayron Sequeira
|• Game Summary
• Ticket Info
VANCOUVER – Well, this is it, the final week of what has definitely been one crazy lockout-shortened NHL regular season for the Red Wings.
With eight points still available, the Wings control their own playoff destiny, beginning with three straight games at home against Phoenix, Los Angeles and Nashville. They’ll finish the season next Saturday at Dallas in what might be a make-or-break game for the Wings who are seeking to extend their 21-season playoff streak.
“We just have to stick with the program regardless of where we play,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We have to find energy and just go after them. There’s no need or time to do anything else. We have to focus on what we need to do out there and just get the job done.”
The Wings enter the week with a game in hand and one-point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, behind the current No. 8 seed Columbus Blue Jackets. Only three points separate seeds 8-11 with the Coyotes currently holding down the No. 11 spot with 46 points.
The Wings have a 10-7-4 record at Joe Louis Arena this year. They own a 5-3-1 record against the teams that they’ll face-off against this week, having out-scored them 24-16, with a pair of shutout victories and an overtime loss to the Predators. Detroit has split the remaining season series with the Stars, Coyotes and defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.
But the Wings aren’t interested in their home record. They need to play with urgency and desperation, captain Henrik Zetterberg said, following the team’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Canucks on Saturday.
“We don't care how our (home) record is now,” he said. “We know we got to win games to get into the postseason. Of course we're happy to be at home than on the road, but we got to go in and focus on Monday.”
Despite losing five of six games – including three in shutouts – the Wings have done some very good things defensively, limiting the opposition to nine goals, while holding them to 22.6 shots per game.
“I don't care where we got ‘em, we got an opportunity to look after business,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ll have a morning skate and get ready to play a Phoenix team that will be real competitive. We got to find a way to score more goals. Just continue to work hard and do good things and good things will happen to you.”
With that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:
GAA: 2.57 | SVP: 0.911
PLAYER TO WATCH: The Coyotes looked like they were headed to a Western Conference playoff berth when Mike Smith returned from injury in early April. The 6-foot-4 goalie was solid stopping 115 of 120 shots in leading Phoenix to a 2-1-1 record. But then he suffered his third injury this season. Considered day-to-day, it’s not known if Smith will be ready for Monday night’s game against the Red Wings. If he is, he’ll be the third Coyotes’ goaltender to start against Detroit this season. Jason LaBarbera surrendered three goals in a loss on March 25, and Chad Johnson stopped 34 shots in a 4-2 over the Wings on April 4. … Seeking a long-term contract, Smith is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5. It’s been a frustrating season for Smith, who has posted an overall record of 13-11-4 with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. In eight career starts against Detroit, Smith has a 2-4-2 record with a 2.54 GAA.
SOG: 80 | +/-: -6
PLAYER TO WATCH: Mike Richards has suffered from inconsistency issues all season. But over the last eight games he has produced eight points for the Kings, who, since the 2011-12 season, are 40-8-10 when the veteran center from Kenora, Ontario, records a point. He has 11 goals and 30 points in 44 games this season. He recorded a ‘Gordie Howe hat trick’ when he produced a goal, an assist and had a fighting major with Columbus’s Brandon Dubinsky on Feb. 5. … In 10 career games against the Red Wings, Richards has two goals and two assists. Both goals were short-handed tallies.
SOG: 7 | +/-: -4
PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie winger Filip Forsberg was the key piece for the Predators in the trade deadline deal that saw Martin Erat dealt to the Washington Capitals. A supremely skilled two-way player, Forsberg has first-class hockey sense and puck skills. Coupled with a creativity, and some flashiness, he can do the unexpected. Besides being a great stick handler, he has a very powerful shot and overall tools to become a high scorer in the league. The 11th overall pick in last summer’s NHL draft, he fired two shots and registered a minus-2 rating in 18:37 of ice-time in his NHL debut on April 14 against the Red Wings. … Preds coach Barry Trotz has been very impressed with the 18-year-old Swede, telling the Nashville Tennessean, “My first impressions are that I love him. I've been around a lot of young guys and the ones that turn out to be really good players, top players, have a certain swagger to them. They carry themselves a certain way and I see that in him.”
SOG: 52 | +/-: 5
PLAYER TO WATCH: Since the April 3 trade deadline, Stars center Vernon Fiddler is tied for the second-most points scored in the NHL. The 5-foot-11 Edmonton native has posted three goals and eight assists in eight games since the deadline, which included a six-game point streak from April 3-13. Since returning on April 3 from a lower body injury, which forced him to miss two games, Fiddler has produced three goals with eight assists and a plus-5 rating. Prior to the injury, which occurred on April 1 vs. Anaheim, Fiddler struggled to collect a goal and five assists in 33 games.