Friday, Feb 15, 2013, 4:30 PM PST
Joe Louis Arena
It would have been nice to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation and in doing so prevent them from making any more of a run at the 2006-07 Ducks record for best start to a season. But the 'Hawks aren't the best team in the league for nothing, so nobody's complaining about the two points. But somehow we were all confident going into that game to begin with, right? The Blackhawks had been playing fantastic hockey, but our guys had been playing only slightly less fantastic hockey, and the prospect of playing in the United Center has never exactly frightened Ducks fans.
Joe Louis Arena? That's a different story. This is a building that has not been kind to the Ducks in recent years, or ever, really. Last season, the Red Wings outscored the Ducks 6-1 in the two games that the Ducks played in Detroit, while the Ducks went 0-1-1 in that building. The season before that, the Wings outscored the Ducks 9-4 in their building, winning both games in regulation. Most depressing of all, the Ducks haven't won a regulation game at the Joe in five years. Point is, Detroit's not an easy place to play in.
Take all of that ugly history, and compound it with the fact that the Red Wings are 6-2-2 in their last ten and Henrik Zetterberg is playing like Henrik Zetterberg, and you've got yourself a challenge to say the least.
But there is good news. The last time the Ducks played Detroit (in Anaheim), we smashed them 4-0. More importantly, the Ducks currently have three more standing points than the Wings do despite having played one fewer game. The Ducks are rolling, and, thank goodness (or Nick Bonino), their shootout performers are rolling too.
As far as personnel goes, it looks like we're going to see a slightly different lineup than what we've been getting used to. Emerson Etem and Rickard Rakell have been sent down, and they're being replaced by Peter Holland and Patrick Maroon. Holland skated between Selanne and Ryan during Thursday's practice, but we all know how little that guarantees in the world of Bruce Boudreau.
On the Detroit side, I'd like to talk about a couple of players, one of whom is Nick Lidstrom. You know, the guy who is definitely not going to be playing in this game or any other at the NHL level, ever again? Yeah. I bring him up only because I think it's worth noting that this season is the first in Anaheim Ducks history in which they will not be seeing Lidstrom. Which tells me two things: First, Wow was that guy old; and Second, Hey, maybe we can score a few more goals than we usually do in this building.
At the other end of the spectrum is Damien Brunner, a rookie against whom the Ducks have never played. He's got six goals and three assists on the young season, not to mention a Datsyukian shootout goal. Watch out when he's on the ice with Zetterberg.
Any way you cut it, the Ducks have found a way to win their last two games and they currently sit atop the Pacific and ahead of Detroit. Regardless of their horrible history at the Joe, there's no reason the Ducks can't grab two points against the Wings. In a perfect world, Corey Perry breaks out of his scoring slump, Holland and Maroon contribute in some meaningful way, and Viktor Fasth adds to his perfect record. In the real world, I'm happy with two points however we get them.