In the week ahead, the Detroit Red Wings are headed back to familiar grounds. They’re taking their game on the road for three games of a four-game West coast Canadian swing – playing Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton before taking on Winnipeg in early next week.
Since beating the undefeated Colorado Avalanche last week, the Wings are winless in four games. Over that time, they’ve been outscored 15-5 by their opponents losing one game in overtime and one in a shootout.
Coach Mike Babcock has tried splitting up Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to try and balance scoring in his lineup, to no avail. So fans and management alike would enjoy a better outcome in the team’s road trip. Here’s a look ahead to this week’s match-ups.
Wednesday 10/30 – Red Wings @ Canucks
The Red Wings could be heading to Vancouver at a good time. Sure, the Canucks have been playing good hockey – having won four straight – but injuries are starting to pile up to their depth players. Jordan Schroeder is out for two months with an ankle injury. Jannik Hansen will miss three to four weeks with an upper body injury. Dale Weise is expected to be out for three to four weeks with a lower body injury and David Booth could miss a week or two with a lower body injury.
#canucks Schroeder (ankle) out two months, Hansen (upper body) out 3-4 weeks, Weise (lower body) out 3-4 weeks, Booth (lower) out 1-2 weeks
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) October 28, 2013
While John Tortorella will look for his team to continue their recent success and add to their 9-4-1 record, Babcock’s Red Wings hope to end their slide and put together a some wins. Over their losing streak, Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson have combined for a 3.13 goals-against average and a 0.898 save percentage.
Howard will likely get the start as his numbers against the Canucks are better than his counterpart. In 16 career games he has a 9-5 record and a 2.72 goals against average.
The Red Wings will be without Johan Franzen for this game due to an undisclosed injury, but Patrick Eaves is expected to be back. Luke Glendening has also been recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Wings won the season series last year 2-1, outscoring the Canucks 14-7 over the three games. Zetterberg and Datsyuk each had five points against them last year and will look to spread the wealth this Wednesday.
Friday 11/1 – Red Wings @ Flames
In the first of a back-to-back, the Red Wings will take on the defiant Calgary Flames who have posted a better record thus far than most people expected. The Flames will be without captain Mark Giordano who suffered a lower body injury against the Los Angeles Kings on October 21.
The Flames have been led offensively by Jiri Hudler and his 13 points and rookie Sean Monahan who’s put up six goals and four assists over his first 11 games. Howard and Gustavsson will likely share the next two starts. Howard has the better number against the Flames, but could get the night off and start agains the surging Oilers on Saturday.
The Wings will have to keep an eye on the recent Flames’ returnee Mike Cammalleri who has had quite the impact since his return. He’s recored five points in his four games this season and will look to help lead the team’s first line.
It could be a physical affair with both blue lines employing big, sizeable defensemen. Having played a couple games since his return from injury, Niklas Kronwall should be back to his board-smashing self against Calgary’s smaller offensive lines. Detroit could turn their fortunes around with a solid all-around game against a team that is certainly less experienced.
Saturday 11/2 – Red Wings @ Oilers
The Wings’ third game of the week and third of their West coast swing will be against another depleted team. The Oilers have faced injuries since preseason when Sam Gagner went down with a broken jaw. Although Gagner returned to the lineup this week, they’re without Taylor Hall, Ryan Hamilton, Jesse Joensuu, and Steve MacIntyre.
To add insult to injury, the Oilers goaltending has been less than impressive thus far. Behind Devan Dubnyk, the team has thrown in Jason LaBarbera and Richard Bachman trying to find the winning combination. Still, the Oilers rank last in goals allowed per game allowing almost four goals per game.
The Wings own the all-time series against the Oilers with a record of 63-59-13 – winning all three of their meetings last season. The Oilers have lost three in a row this season and both teams will be looking to change their fortune.
If Howard can bounce back to his early season form, the Red Wings should be able pull off wins in all three of this week’s games. It’ll be good for the Wings to get out of the East for a bit and head back to the West coast where they’ve been so dominant in the past.
“Obviously, we don’t go there that often now,” said Zetterberg in an article by Bill Roose. “I’m kind of looking forward to going to those cities and play those games. It’s fun to go there, to play in Canada, lot of attention on hockey. Then you know you don’t have to go back there. Nice to play all those teams at once. You have a good road trip, a fun road trip and play some good hockey games.”
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Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.