FLAMES (14-6-3) at RED WINGS (11-8-4)
Last 10 - Flames 6-2-2, Wings 5-4-1
Season series - It's the second of four meetings. The teams played on Halloween in Calgary as the Wings were winding down a five-game road trip and Jarome Iginla was still in his early-season funk. The end result was a 3-1 Detroit win.
Big story -- After closing within a point of the Blackhawks in the Central Division standings, the Red Wings have lost four of five and tumbled back to fourth place, eight points back. One big reason is a shutdown on offense: The Wings have scored only five goals in the five-game stretch and were shut out 2-0 at home by Atlanta on Wednesday. They are trying to avoid the first four-game losing streak at the Joe Louis Arena since Feb. 7-29, 2008.
Not that the Flames have been lighting it up much either - they beat Phoenix 2-1 at the Pengrowth Saddledome Wednesday night for only their second win at home in six games. It was their last look at Calgary for a while - this is the opener of a six-game trip.
Flames -- Someone other than Iginla finally got the job done against Phoenix. Daymond Langkow scored the Flames' first goal in the win and has three in his last three games, while Nigel Dawes scored the game-winner late in the third period. A solid performance, especially given the 7-1 drubbing they took from the Blackhawks in their last home game.
"We didn't even talk about it," Dawes said to the Calgary Herald of the Chicago fiasco. "It's in the past now. We addressed it the day after and it was forgotten about. We went out on two important road games and got three out of four points so we're happy with that but we didn't want to sit on that.
"We know we have a huge road trip coming up and we just wanted to get this one win in between. We have been struggling at home and I think it was important to get this win and keep the ball rolling."
Red Wings -- Any team that loses players the caliber of Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Jason Williams will suffer offensively, but add eight forwards with goal-less streaks of five or more games and you have a dangerous trend.
Todd Bertuzzi, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino haven't scored a goal in seven games, Tomas Holmstrom hasn't in six, Brad May in 14 and Patrick Eaves in 11. Even top scorer Henrik Zetterberg has been held to a lone assist in his last four games.
The argument has been made that most of those players aren't expected to bear much of the offensive burden, but those sharing lines with the big guys stand out.
"For the guys who are playing with Pavel (Datsyuk) -- if you don't have any points, those are the ones I'd be concerned about," coach Mike Babcock said to the Detroit News. "You are usually getting opportunities."
"It is like beating a dead horse, but anytime we've had success here over the years, we got contributions out of all four lines," Maltby said.
Injury report -- Flames left winger Rene Bourque has returned to the ice, participating in practice on Wednesday. Franzen (left knee) is still looking to get on the ice by Christmas if he has any hope of representing Sweden in the Olympics.
"I wouldn't really call it skating, though," he said in the News. "It'll be just slow strides. No turns. It's still sore, so I have to be careful."
Wings defenseman Andreas Lilja (concussion) still can't go more than four or five days without experiencing headaches. He hasn't played this season
Stat pack -- Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has a 6-1-3 record with a 2.14 GAA and one shutout in 10 road games this season, allowing two goals or less in his last seven. He hasn't been as effective against Detroit, going 3-3-0 with a tie and a 3.76 GAA in nine games -- getting pulled in two. Iginla, though, hasn't scored against the Red Wings in almost six years, logging only 8 assists in 18 meetings since getting a goal in a loss at Detroit on March 3, 2004.
Puck drop -- Neither team has been an offensive juggernaut lately, but the Flames have done a better job getting by. The Wings need to remind the Flames and the rest of the NHL that the Joe is still a tough place to play.
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