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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Game Preview: Penguins @ Red Wings

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Detroit Red Wings, November 11th, 2008
Game Time: 7:00pm/ET
From: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI
Penguins Record: 8-4-2 (6th in Eastern Conference)
Red Wings Record: 9-2-2 (2nd in Western Conference)
Last Meeting:
Stanley Cup Finals: June 4th, 2008 @ Pittsburgh (3-2 Red Wings)
[Boxscore] [Video]
Last Regular Season Meeting:
October 7th, 2006 @ Pittsburgh (2-0 Red Wings)

Max Talbot - Sidney Crosby - Miroslav Satan
Pascal Dupuis - Evgeni Malkin - Petr Sykora
Tyler Kennedy - Jordan Staal - Matt Cooke
Ruslan Fedotenko - Mike Zigomanis - Eric Godard

Brooks Opik - Kris Letang
Rob Scuderi - Hal Gill
Darryl Sydor - Alex Goligoski

Marc- Andre Fleury (6-3-2 / 2.49GAA / .920 SV%)

Tomas Holmstrom - Pavel Datsuk - Marian Hossa
Valtteri Filppula - Hendrik Zetterberg - Johan Franzen*
Daniel Cleary* - Kris Draper - Mikael Samuelsson
Kirk Maltby - Tomas Kopecky - Jiri Hudler

*Johan Franzen has missed the last five games due to a knee injury, but he is expected back tonight. Daniel Cleary miss practice for personal reasons today. Both are expected to play but final decisions will only be made closer to game time. [Credit: The Detroit News]

Nicklas Lidstrom - Brian Rafalski
Brad Stuart - Niklas Kronwall
Andreas Lilja - Derek Meech

Chris Osgood (6-1-2 / 2.97GAA / .892 SV%)

GOALS: Satan (8)
ASSISTS: Malkin (18)
POINTS: Malkin (22)
+/-: Malkin/Sydor (+4)

GOALS: Zetterberg/Hossa (8)
ASSISTS: Ralfaski/Datsuk (10)
POINTS: Hossa (11)
+/-: Hossa (+9)

I felt stupid writing in "Last Meeting" at the top of the page. Everyone knows what happened the last time these two teams met. The last time we saw they Detroit Red Wings they were skating the Cup around Mellon Arena ice. The last time we saw Marian Hossa he was desperately trying to score a tying goal before time ran out. This is going to be a huge challenge for the Penguins.

During last year's playoff series the Penguins were outplayed by the Red Wings for the majority of the games. The Red Wings are as smothering defensively as they are explosive offensively. And this year they have Marian Hossa. Hossa has been on an absolute tear this season. He has eight goals and nine assists for 17 points thus far. One ahead of Sidney Crosby, but five behind Evgeni Malkin. But Hossa is far from the Red Wings only weapon. Zetterberg also has eight goals this year and Datsuk and Ralfalski each have a very respectable 13 points. It's been said a million times, but not only did this team not lose any significant members of their Stanley Cup winning roster during the offseason, they added Marian Hossa to their ranks. It's also expected that Johan Franzen will return to the line-up today, after missing five games with a sprained left knee.

As for the Penguins? We all know that in addition to losing Hossa the team also lost Malone, Roberts, Ruutu, Laraque, Hall and Ty Conklin (who is now also a member of this Red Wings team.) Add to that the serious injuries to Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney and you have a team that is significantly different than the team that watched Lord Stanley raised on their ice last year.

How will these new Penguins fare against the Red Wings? After a slow start to the season the Penguins have been on somewhat of a roll recently. They have won their last three games and the offense has definitely woken up. Evgeni Malkin leads the NHL with 22 points. Newcomer Miroslav Satan has eight goals and Tyler Kennedy, surprisingly, has five. Sidney Crosby, though off to a slow start by his terms, is second on the team in points with 16. Marc-Andre Fleury has been brilliant in net when he's needed to be and the team is off to its best start since 1995.

I really like the new balanced lines that the team has been using for the last few games. Talbot is a welcome addition to Crosby's wing and Sykora has woken up playing alongside Malkin once again.

A possible concern is injuries. Sidney Crosby appears to still be feeling whatever injury he suffered in Phoenix. Evgeni Malkin took a puck to the hand during the last game in Long Island, but he says that he's alright. Those two will need to be at the top of their games if they wish to beat the Red Wings.

The Penguins will be emotionally ramped up for this game. No matter what they say publicly, I believe this game means more to them than most this season. This is their chance at retribution. Their chance to show that they can compete with the greats. Their chance to show Marian Hossa he made the wrong decision.

The last time the Penguins were in Joe Louis Arena the teams played late into the night. That won't happen this time but hopefully the result will be the same.

Lets Go Pens.

Prediction: It kills me to do this but, 3-1 Red Wings

Detroit Media:

Detroit News
Detroit Free Press

Able to Yzerman
Behind the Jersey
On the Wings
Red Wings Corner
The Triple Deke

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