The Tampa Bay Lightning will visit the Detroit Red Wings for the first and only meeting between the two teams this season. The matchup also marks the first time Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman returns to Hockeytown after taking the job.
Yzerman's back in town: It might just be one game out of a full 82 game NHL schedule, but for just one night, the Red Wings and their fans won't be booing the opponent, or at least its general manager, Steve Yzerman. Detroit fans are well aware of who will be getting the loudest cheers at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night. This is the first time Yzerman is returning to his beloved city of Detroit, where his NHL career started and where he played 23 seasons, serving as arguably one of the greatest NHL captains for his beloved Red Wings. Everyone in attendance at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night will give "The Captain" a standing ovation in his return to the city where he won three Stanley Cup championships.
Team series: This is the only meeting between the Red Wings and Lightning this season. Last season, Detroit visited Tampa Bay and routed the Lightning 6-2, making it five consecutive wins against Tampa Bay. What's even more interesting is that the Red Wings are unbeaten in 10 contests at Joe Louis Arena against the Lightning.
Red Wings @ Lightning 2/17/11 (via NHLVideo)
Both teams at a glance:
LIGHTNING: Tampa Bay (11-10-2) looks to end its short two-game road trip with a win after falling 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. Although the Lightning lost to the Wild, they outshot them and displayed a well-rounded overall effort in the loss. The Lightning are looking to snap Detroit's five-game winning streak and that might be a little difficult, especially with Tampa Bay's less-than-impressive record on the road this season. Monday's loss against the Wild marked the ninth loss in 13 road contests for the Lightning. Dwayne Roloson will be in net on Wednesday against the Red Wings.
RED WINGS - Detroit (14-7-1) is one of the hottest teams in the NHL as of late, winning five consecutive games and nine out of the past 11 games. The win-streak has made the team's six game skid earlier in the season somewhat of an afterthought.
Keys to the game for the Bolts:
The Lightning have scored two goals or less in seven out of nine games and if Jimmy Howard is in net for Detroit, then Tampa Bay's offensive woes could continue. Howard has won his last five starts in net and his 1.87 goals-against average ranks third in the NHL among goaltenders. It's obvious the Lightning can generate the shots on goal, as they did Monday night in Minnesota when they outshot the Wild, but they were ultimately unable to stuff in any pucks behind Niklas Backstrom. For a win against the Red Wings, the Lightning must shoot at every opportunity that they can get, whether there is a clear shooting lane or not and whether or not it'll be a highlight reel goal. The Red Wings are a team that shoots at every single opportunity they get. Detroit's last game, the 4-1 win over the Predators is evident of that, outshooting Nashville 37-19. The Lightning must do the same if they hope to break Detroit's domination over them in recent years.
The Red Wings are plenty aware of the Lightning's 1-3-1 defensive system, so expect them to play a quick, uptempo game. If Detroit ends up playing a slower paced type game than they would like, then they will have to deal with the 1-3-1, and at that point, things will get interesting.
Players to watch: Steven Stamkos has really been lighting up the lamp, with nine goals in his last 11 games with Tampa Bay. Stamkos has 15 goals so far this season, which has him in second place in NHL scoring. For Detroit Valtteri Filpula is riding his own streak, a three-game point streak with four goals and an assist in that span. Jiri Hudler has four assists in his last three games.
Red Wings - Johan Franzen (lower body injury) did not practice on Tuesday but is expected to play Wednesday night. Patrick Eaves (broken jaw) is out six to eight weeks after getting surgery to wire his broken jaw shut. Jan Mursak (ankle) Injured Reserve.