The Red Wings will try to extend their NHL-record home winning streak to 24 on Thursday. But they’ll have to do it against a team that's been pretty comfortable on the road.
Vancouver, which is 38-16-6 overall, comes in with a league-best 20-10-2 road record. The Canucks have won six of their last eight away from Vancouver and, at least according to the rhetoric, are looking forward to the challenge of playing in Hockeytown. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo was quoted saying,
We’ve been hoping they would still be undefeated by the time we got there. Talking to the guys, even two to three weeks ago, I was hoping that they would hold on until we got there at least, so we can get a chance. That’s what’s fun about playing the game; challenges like that. I think as a group, we’re excited about it and we're going to step up to the plate.
The Wings, 41-18-2, will be without All-Star Pavel Datsyuk, who on Tuesday had arthroscopic knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for a few weeks.
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who recently returned from an injury of his own, expects other players to step up in Datsyuk’s absence.
Pav’s been out before and he’s a huge part of our team but we’re going to need guys to step up. This is an opportunity for other guys now to play in a role maybe they’re not used to playing in, maybe getting some more ice time, and they’re going to find a way to get it done for us.
Detroit is but three points ahead of Vancouver in the West, 84 points to 82. The Canucks, though, have played one fewer game.
These two teams hooked up at Joe Louis back on Oct. 13, with the Wings prevailing 2-0.
The game will start at 7:30 ET and be on Fox Sports Detroit.