Tuesday’s matchup with the Detroit Red Wings has been a game that the players and coaching staff have had their eye on as others likely have to.
The disapointing part is that several core players including two of the best players in the game won’t be available tomorrow night.
So Who Won’t Play?….
Sidney Crosby, the NHL points leader will miss his 6th straight game and headlines a long list of player who will miss the game.
Pittsburgh is 2-2-1 without Crosby, while the Red Wings keep on winning despite a plethora of injuries.
Among the regulars who won’t play tomorrow for Detroit are star center Pavel Datsyuk who suffered a broken hand Dec. 22, winger Dan Cleary who broke his ankle Dec 26, defenseman Brad Stuart whose been out with a broken jaw since Jan. 7, and Tomas Holmstrom who broke his hand on Friday.
Also not available for the Red Wings will be backup goaltender Chris Osgood underwent sports hernia surgery Tuesday and Mike Modano has been out since Nov. 26 with a lacerated wrist.
The Red Wings will now be without goaltender Jimmy Howard who will not play against Pittsburgh due to a knee injury.
Despite putting up a lineup that would resemble a preseason lineup with 6 of 7 regulars out of the lineup, the Red Wings boast a 28-11-6, 62pts record and are clearly a top contender in the Western Conference. They have posted a 6-2-2 record in their last 10 games.
After both teams took a slight step back in 2009-2010, Detroit and Pittsburgh have both re-merged as Cup contenders in different ways.
The Red Wings have emerged as one one of the most dynamic offensive teams, leading the NHL with 3.44 goals per game. Meanwhile Pittsburgh has dramatically improved defensively and are in a way becoming a team built off of their defensive play, ranking 2nd in the NHL in goals against at 2.33.
Head coach Dan Bylsma talked about the rivalry and matchup today in a game that has lost some of it’s luster due to the injuries to Crosby and Co.
“There are games on the schedule that we look at when we get it, ” Bylsma said. “We always look to see when the Red Wings might be coming to town or when we’re going there. Regardless of what names are on the jerseys or not, we have plenty of history. There are plenty of feeling, plenty of hard fought games, some good memories, some bad memories. We know we’re playing a good team….a team at the top of the league in terms of a quality of team we’re playing.”
“I think there has been a respect between us and the Red Wings, ” Bylsma said. “Starting at the top through their scouting, management, coaching staff and their team. Maybe you don’t model yourselves identically after them, but you model after the consistency of their organization.
“Their ability to get players, and bring players in and do that within the salary cap and the quality they put on the ice, I think that’s something everyone has looked at the Red Wings and been envious of.
“We have been able to do similar things. Over the past six or seven years we have had good teams and different players. If we can be compared to them, we are happy to be compared to them in that way and we hope to keep doing that in the future.”