Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks (-125, 5.5)
Will Datsyuk Play?
Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk missed Thursday’s practice and his status is uncertain for Friday’s game. The Hart Trophy finalist was injured during Game 2 when he was hit in the thigh with a shot.
Jiri Hudler took Datsyuk’s place on a line between Tomas Holmstrom and Marian Hossa. Though Datsyuk only has seven points in 13 playoff games, he finished fourth in the league with 97 points during the regular season
The Wings have players on all four lines that can score and received contributions from unlikely sources on Tuesday with Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals.
In order to win, the Blackhawks need consistent production from both their top forwards and secondary scorers. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane played much better on separate lines in Game 2, but Chicago did not receive any secondary scoring. Coach Joel Quenneville has not yet disclosed whether they will be re-united for tonight’s match.
Detroit’s penalty kill is (71.7 percent) the worst of the four remaining playoff teams. They have given up power play goals in 11 straight playoff games, a franchise record.
To make matters worse, they’re facing a Chicago team with the best power play in the playoffs, scoring 29.8 percent of the time. The Hawks out-worked the Wings last game and were able to generate five man advantage opportunities as opposed to only one in Game 1.
The Blackhawks must limit their turnovers to win Game 3.
Detroit’s overtime winning goal was a byproduct of a Chicago turnover. Samuelsson scored on the ensuing 3-on-1 rush and the Wings won despite not playing their best hockey.
“I didn’t think last night we had much,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It looked like we didn’t have the pop we needed to be as good as we could be last night.”
Home-ice advantage: Dogs and Beer
Detroit has only been an underdog in five games this season and went just 1-4 in those situations. Two of those games were in Chicago: The Winter Classic (Wings 6, Hawks 4) and the final game of the regular season (Hawks 3, Wings 0).
The Wings will have to win in a building that is so loud that coach Joel Quenneville has admitted to having difficulty yelling out line changes.
Hopefully there will be plenty of taxis waiting outside the arena for the rowdy crowd. The Blackhawks set a franchise record in their last home game with 38,000 beers sold. Chicago is 5-1 at home this postseason.
Series Star Watch
- Detroit is 5-1 in its last six games
- Chicago is 6-1 in its last seven games at home