The Chicago Blackhawks are teetering on the edge of the playoff bubble, putting their defense of the Stanley Cup in serious jeopardy. If they want to make the playoffs, they'll have to go through Detroit.
Chicago leads Dallas by two points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Dallas has two games left against essentially cupcake teams (Colorado, Minnesota). Chicago? They get the 20-straight-years-of-playoffs Red Wings in a home-and-home series.
The Red Wings won't be setting this game on cruise control either. Though they've clinched at least the third seed by winning the Central Division, they can still catch San Jose for the No. 2 spot in the West. The Red Wings trail the Sharks by one point and both have two games left.
However, Detroit enters the game banged up after forward Henrik Zetterberg did something to his knee against Carolina on Wednesday. Zetterberg won't play the final two games and its questionable if he'll be ready to go when the playoffs begin. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall will also miss his fourth straight game with a shoulder injury, and general manager Ken Holland said that he wouldn't play Sunday if he didn't play tonight.
OUT: Henrik Zetterberg (knee/lower body), Niklas Kronwall (shoulder), Chris Osgood (groin)
Players To Watch
Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings: With no Zetterberg, Datsyuk will be the main focus of the offense tonight.
Patrick Sharp, Hawks: Sharp returned Wednesday from a knee injury and is a key cog in their offense.
These are the lines the Wings used in practice on Thursday:
Jiri Hudler-Datsyuk-Johan Franzen
Dan Cleary-Justin Abdelkader-Todd Bertuzzi
Mike Modano-Valtteri Filppula-Tomas Holmstrom
Drew Miller/Kris Draper-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves
Nicklas Lidstrom-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Brian Rafalski
Jakub Kindl-Ruslan Salei
Jimmy Howard will start in net.
Keep an eye on San Jose tonight, as they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes. That game drops the puck at 10 p.m. EST and you can catch it on Yahoo Sports later if you feel inclined to do so.