And that's until you get to the injury news. We all knew we'd be missing Kevin Bieksa today after he tweaked a groin in the 2nd period of the game against the Predators, and will be replaced by
Cam Barker Andrew Alberts. We're also hearing that Aaron Volpatti could be back in and David Booth might be out today (illness). The Red Wings meanwhile will be putting Jimmy Howard back in net after his shutout last night. Jonas Gustafsson was scheduled to get the start, but has re-aggravated a groin pull, and as a result the Wings have recalled Thomas McCollum from Grand Rapids. So what seemed like a decent chance against a Red Wings team that appears to not be the perennial power house we're accustomed to this year has now become a bigger challenge for the team playing their 4th game in 6 days. Chances are they'll be looking to Roberto Luongo to come up big once again.
Kind of surprised that they went with Alberts in this situation. I could understand if it was a need to have the physical presence that AA brings, but his lack of speed and mobility could be exploited by a team like Detroit. I'm already having cold sweats thinking about what might happen if he gets caught out there with Pavel Datsyuk on the ice. This seemed like a no-brainer for Cam Barker to play his first game as a Canuck, but I guess we'll have to wait.
A win today for the Canucks would be huge, as they would finish a pretty tough road trip with 7 of 8 points against non-divisional opponents. A Detroit team that's been dismal on the penalty kill will definitely help as the Canucks power play has looked pretty decent of late, save for the 0 for 2 performance against Nashville Friday night. Ryan Kesler's return seems to have gotten their play with the man advantage back on track, and I won't at all be surprised if he pots 1 or 2 in front of family and friends today.
The Wings are a pretty banged up team right now, with Gustafsson joining Kyle Quincy, Brendan Smith, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mikael Samuelsson, Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen on their list of walking wounded. Makes the Canucks injury situation so far this season look even better than it's been (**knocks on wood**).
It's a shame that Bieksa had pulled up lame Friday, he had been on a really good run, with 5 goals in 8 games for the Canucks. It came as quite a surprise to see that this will be the first game this season where the Canucks are not starting their normal top 6 defencemen. I mean, we knew that Alberts and Barker had yet to play, but injuries on the back end have been such a staple of a Canucks regular season that you just accept it as fact. Such is life in our Salo-less world, I guess.
If you ever doubted the Hockey Gods have a twisted sense of humour, look no further than last night's game between Montreal and the Rangers. Of course Max Pacioretty will get suspended for a hit from behind last night, when he nailed Ryan McDonagh from behind in the Habs' 3-0 win. If you listen closely, you can hear Zdeno Chara laughing loudly as he swallows live goats whole for lunch... In a shocking development, there appears to be some confusion about just what is wrong with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Despite reports this weekend that had Malkin suffering from 'severe headaches and mild disorientation', Penguins coach Dan Bylsma today denied these reports, and stated that Malkin will be evaluated before today's game with against Tampa Bay. Remember that when Sidney Crosby took that hit to the head against Washington in the Winter Classic a couple years back, he played the next game against Tampa and took another hit, leading some to believe it made an already bad situation worse. It seems crazy that the Pens look like they'd not err on the side of caution here. In the meantime, we'll just consider Malkin as day to day (karma)... And congrats to Chris Higgins, who will play his 500th NHL game today. Prediction: He scores one on a deflection off his abs...
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
In keeping with the not exactly glamourous road trip, here's Exodus with a damn fine version of an AC/DC classic...