Both the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings are playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Ducks are coming home from Phoenix (5-3 win), and the Red Wings are coming down from Los Angeles (3-1 win). Unless things change in both teams’ games beforehand, Anaheim is coming home far healthier than Detroit, which has seen a recent string of groin injuries tear through the roster. You know how contagious those groin injuries are.
One thing to note: since both Jonas Hiller and Jimmy Howard figure to start in Saturday night’s games, this could be a battle of backup goaltenders. The Ducks have called up John Gibson (future American president, probably) so that Frederik Andersen can see more starts with the Norfolk Admirals. For the Wings, Petr Mrazek could see the ice. However, and this is a big one: both clubs have indicated a willingness to play their starters two nights running for the game.
Keys to the Game: The second game on any back-to-back is usually a game of will. There is a fatigue effect in play, most evident in the opening five minutes of the game and the tailing minutes of each frame. The better players adjust to that both physically and mentally, playing a simple game in both capacities. It takes a strong will to not only overcome fatigue but to force oneself to play smarter, sometimes counter to instinct. With both teams coming off a game on Saturday night, this could turn into whichever team has the most discipline in playing a simple, grinding game.
What Can We Learn From this Game: If Hiller starts in net, he’ll do so after a game the night before. Statistically, goalies playing in both games on a back-to-back see their performance suffer. If Gibson starts, it will be the first time fans get to see him play a regular season game. In either instance, the team will have to play stronger defensively to help the goaltender out.
Fearless Prediction: Corey Perry somehow finds a way to fight Jimmy Howard, even if he’s on the bench.
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