Avalanche at red wings, Game 21 Preview

Dave Sandford

The road trip continues as the Avs face off with the red wings tonight in a game that could really show some character.

The Avalanche have the opportunity to bounce back from a dismal showing in Columbus with a solid effort in Detroit. The wings are coming off an emotional loss on Sunday, falling to the the red hot Blackhawks in a shoot out. The Avs will have to bring their best game if they expect to come away with two points.

It's not as if Detroit has been killing it lately, though. The team has only won half of their games back through February 1. They have a .545 win percentage on the season. But that's 3 games better than Colorado has done in that time, a team that continues to balance at .500. But it's not as if Detroit is secure in the standings, either. They sit at 8th with only 4 points separating them from the 13th place Avalanche (who have two games in hand, by the way).

Five v five, the teams are pretty evenly matched. Goals for, goals against, and shot percentage, for example, are all right in the same range. The penalty kill is also pretty similar. Even that dang power play is fairly close. Detroit is converting at 15.2%, good for 21st in the league. The Avs? A depressing 12.5%, better only than Buffalo. That still only equates to five more goals for (and two more short-handed against) for the wings.

For many years, wings fans have claimed that the rivalry is over because of the disparity in performance. They said the wings were too good for the Avalanche, killing whatever animosity might otherwise still be there. Looks like performance has evened out; maybe mediocrity will spark the rivalry all over again.

Neither Erik Johnson nor Ryan Wilson will be back in the line up for tonight, but look for one, if not both, later this week. The wings are still without the services of a bunch of guys, including [name redacted]. JS Giguere will be in net for the Avs.

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