Wings look to grab pre-Olympic points vs. Senators
SENATORS (35-22-4) at RED WINGS (27-21-12)
Last 10 --
Ottawa 9-1-0; Detroit 2-4-4
Season Series --
This is the first and only meeting between the clubs this season.
Big Story --
Both teams shook things up Friday with some roster moves. The Senators bolstered their lineup as they prepare to go into March in a battle for the Northeast Division title by acquiring Matt Cullen from Carolina in exchange for defenseman Alexandre Picard and a second-round draft pick. The Red Wings freed up some necessary cap space by waiving Brad May and can now activate defenseman Andreas Lilja, who has missed about a year with concussion symptoms. The Red Wings still need to clear about $700,000 to make room for Lilja's $1.2 million cap hit, but if he doesn't return Saturday they would have the entire break to decide. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that it's possible Kirk Maltby will go on long-term IR with a chronic shoulder problem that will require surgery. That would give the Wings the space they need.
With their thrilling 6-5 win over Washington on Thursday night, the Senators took over first place in the Northeast Division from Buffalo. It was the Senators' 13th win in 14 games and afterward GM Bryan Murray was rewarded for the team's success with a one-year contract extension. The Senators are getting goals from a lot of different players, and on Friday they added another guy who can contribute offensively without giving up any scoring in return. Cullen had 12 goals and 28 assists in 60 games with Carolina this season. He has significant postseason experience as he was Carolina's third-line center during its run to the Stanley Cup in 2006. The move bolsters the Senators already impressive offense. He could slot in as their third-line center as well behind Jason Spezza
and Mike Fisher
. Cullen will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Red Wings --
Lilja's imminent return from a year-long battle with concussion symptoms is nice for the Red Wings, but it won't give them that extra goal per game they are dying for. The Wings just can't seem to get over the hump and this will be their final game before eight (if Johan Franzen goes) of their players head to Vancouver for the Olympics. Detroit has lost four in a row, including two straight via the shootout. Prior to that, the Red Wings lost to Los Angeles, 4-3. They are only a minus-4 in goal-differential, but that minus is the reason the Red Wings are 10th in the Western Conference with 66 points. They have shown resiliency lately by coming back in the third period against St. Louis and San Jose to earn a point. They also had 52 shots against the Sharks. Niklas Kronwall could return to the lineup against Ottawa.
Who's Hot --
Spezza has 11 goals in his last 11 games. The only game Spezza didn't get a goal in was the 5-0 loss to Toronto last weekend.
Injury Report --
The Senators are still without Nick Foligno
, Chris Campoli and Erik Karlsson
. … The Red Wings could get Kronwall and Lilja back Saturday, though Lilja might have to wait until after the break. Tomas Holmstrom returned Thursday, but Maltby could be going on long-term IR.
Stat Pack --
Cullen's arrival means he immediately ranks third on the Senators in scoring (40 points), faceoffs (49.1 percent) and shots (137). He is second in assists (28) and fourth among forwards in ice time per game (19:01).
Puck Drop --
Detroit could be sending as many as eight players to the Olympics while the Senators will be sending five. If Franzen, Kronwall and Holmstrom all go, that would mean six players in this game will be from Team Sweden, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson
. Ottawa's Olympic contingent includes Alfredsson (Sweden), Anton Volchenkov (Russia), Jarkko Ruutu
(Finland), Filip Kuba
and Milan Michalek
(Czech Republic). The Wings contingent includes the aforementioned Swedes plus Brian Rafalski (USA), Pavel Datsyuk (Russia) and Valtteri Filppula (Finland). Ole-Kristian Tollefssen (Norway) is playing for Detroit's AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.