NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 20th
(All times Eastern)
Detroit Red Wings (20-16-7) at Vancouver Canucks (24-13-7), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With the possibility of missing the playoffs for the first
time in 22 seasons hanging over them, the Detroit Red Wings will try to boost
their postseason chances when they visit the first-place Vancouver Canucks on
Since last missing the playoffs in the spring of 1990, the Red Wings have made
21 straight postseason appearances. It's the longest such streak currently
going in any of the four major professional sports leagues in North America.
Detroit, however, has lost four of its last five games (1-2-2) and finds
itself two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western
Conference. Columbus currently occupies the eighth seed, but Detroit holds two
games in hand over the Blue Jackets, who are idle on Saturday.
Dallas is currently tied with the Red Wings in the ninth spot, but the Stars
are also on idle on Saturday. Detroit has one game in hand over Dallas.
The Red Wings failed to earn a point in their most recent game, as they
dropped a 3-2 decision Wednesday night in Calgary. The contest was tied at 1-1
after 40 minutes, but Steve Begin scored twice in the third period to stake
the Flames to a 3-1 lead. Johan Franzen cut the deficit to one goal for
Detroit with 2:42 left in regulation, but the Red Wings couldn't get the
Gustav Nyquist also scored for the Red Wings and Jimmy Howard allowed three
goals on just 17 shots in defeat.
"This is an urgent moment for us," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You
have to win your way in, you can't watch your way in. We're not at the level
that we've been in the past, for sure, but we've still competed hard. I
thought we competed hard tonight (but) we didn't start on time and we made a
couple of mistakes."
Detroit is playing its penultimate road game of the regular season on Saturday
and will open a three-game homestand with Monday's tilt against Phoenix. The
Red Wings, who are 10-7-4 at home this season and 10-9-3 on the road, will
then close the season next Saturday in Dallas.
The Red Wings have fared well against Vancouver this season, winning both
meetings by a combined score of 13-5. The most recent encounter was on March
16 in Vancouver and the Red Wings recorded a 5-2 decision behind a two-goal
performances from both Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.
Detroit has won four of six in this series overall and two straight in
While Detroit's quest for a playoff spot could go down to the wire, the
Canucks can officially clinch a postseason berth with a win in Saturday's
game. Vancouver, the third-seeded team in the West, is also closing in on its
fifth straight Northwest Division title, as it sits four points ahead of
second-place Minnesota with four games to play for both teams. The Wild are
idle on Saturday before hosting Calgary on Sunday.
Despite its firm playoff standing, Vancouver has lost two straight and three
of its last four games. The Canucks were dealt a humbling 5-1 loss in Dallas
on Thursday to complete a five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 record.
Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin both tallied one goal and one assist to lead the
Stars to the rout. The game was tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes before Dallas
scored four unanswered goals in the third period.
Derek Roy tallied the lone goal for the Canucks, who could have clinched a
playoff berth with a win. Corey Schneider allowed five goals on 30 shots.
"I think we need, after tonight, to regroup tomorrow and focus on Detroit,"
said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault.
Vancouver has played the last two games without defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who
is questionable for Saturday's test with a lower body injury.
The Canucks are 13-5-3 as the host this season and are kicking off a three-
game homestand tonight. Vancouver will complete its regular season next
Saturday in Edmonton.
04/20 11:03:21 ET