At this time of year, a team that waits more than a week between games is usually booking tee times. Not for the Detroit Red Wings.
The vacation for Detroit ends tonight as they finally resume their playoff push in San Jose, nine days after the Red Wings ousted the Phoenix Coyotes in four games.
This is a precise replay of last season for Detroit. After eliminating Phoenix in seven games in 2010, Detroit ran into the Sharks in the second round and lost in five games.
The Red Wings are hoping for a better result this time around. They're healthier than they were last season and their goalie has another season under his belt.
Jimmy Howard looked a bit overwhelmed in the second round last season, but he was far from overwhelmed in the first round against the Coyotes. The Wings' second-year netminder outplayed Ilya Bryzgalov in all four games and looks much more poised in these playoffs. The same can't be said about his counterpart in San Jose, Antti Niemi. Niemi was pulled twice and gave up nearly four goals a game against Los Angeles in round one.
The Red Wings will also be getting the equivalent of a blockbuster trade acquisition tonight, as Henrik Zetterberg returns to the lineup. He missed all of the first round against Phoenix, but the Wings hardly needed him in averaging over four goals a game. Ansar Khan reports that Zetterberg will be teaming up with a familiar face tonight, starting on a line with Pavel Datsyuk.
Mike Modano and Kris Draper saw some extended time in the first round, but with Zetterberg and Johan Franzen back in the lineup they are now the odd men out.
Line Change (per Khan)
Jiri Hudler-Valtteri Filppula-Johan Franzen
Dan Cleary-Justin Abdelkader-Todd Bertuzzi
Nicklas Lidstrom-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall-Ruslan Salei
Chris Osgood remains out, meaning Joey MacDonald will continue to back up Howard.
OUT: Chris Osgood, DET (groin)