March 3: Look Ahead in Hockeytown
Red Wings face a four-game work week, including return to JLA after 31 day absence
|Swedish goallie Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves in the Rangers 1-0 win over the Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 16.|
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:
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.
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.
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
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.