GAME DAY: Detroit
Columbus aims for 2-0 start to the season as the Red Wings visit Nationwide
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (1-0-0) VS. DETROIT RED WINGS (0-1-0)
NATIONWIDE ARENA | 7:30 P.M. TONIGHT
TV: NBC SPORTS NETWORK (HD) | RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
The Detroit Red Wings were humbled in a season-opening 6-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, there's no doubt about that. But they're a very proud team and organization, and you can expect a completely different effort when the puck drops tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Jimmy Howard didn't make it out of the Red Wings' opener -- giving up five goals on 28 shots -- and didn't get much help from his teammates in the process. St. Louis was the better club in all facets of the game and Detroit shockingly managed just 14 shots on goal, one of the lowest season-opening totals in club history. If there's a team that can easily shake off a miserable performance and follow it up with a superb one, it's the Red Wings. The Blue Jackets will have their hands full with Detroit tonight.
Some are wondering if this year's edition of the Red Wings is less potent than in years past, but only time will tell in that regard. The retirements of Nick Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom signal the departure of two of the most recognizable and accomplished players in Red Wings history, but in the same breath, it's a new beginning for several of Detroit's young prospects and an opportunity for several others. Niklas Kronwall is atop that list and he enters the year as Detroit's No. 1 defenseman, having learned under Lidstrom's watch and grown with every season in the NHL.
If there's a weak spot on the Red Wings, though, it may be the defense; gone are Lidstrom and Brad Stuart from the blue line and it's up to guys like Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl, Ian White and others to step up and play a bigger role. Up front, it's the usual suspects like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen who are going to carry the mail offensively, but there's another wave of young stars in the wings.
Swiss import Damien Brunner, signed in the offseason, is playing wing on the top line and don't forget about Gustav Nyquist in the AHL. Detroit may be a year older up front and thinner on defense, but there's plenty of NHL-ready talent in the pipeline.
-- Tonight's game is the 12th home opener in Blue Jackets franchise history. The club is 5-4-2 in its previous 11 home openers, and dropped a 3-2 decision in last year's home opener to the Nashville Predators. Columbus' last home opener win was a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 3, 2009.
-- Columbus won two of three meetings at Nationwide Arena between these two teams last season, including a 4-2 win on Mar. 28, 2012 highlighted by Allen York's first career victory. The Blue Jackets were 2-3-1 against the Red Wings last season.
-- Two Blue Jackets who experienced success against the Red Wings a year ago were Ryan Johansen and RJ Umberger. Johansen scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 25, 2011 (the team's first win of the season) and it was also his first career multi-point game. Umberger registered four points (two goals, two assists) in three home games vs. the Red Wings in 2011-12.
-- Jack Johnson logged a career-high 32:16 TOI against the Red Wings on Mar. 28, 2012.
CENTER | #40
2011-12 STATS: 22-47-69 (82 GP)
The 32-year-old Swede was named the Red Wings' captain earlier this month, succeeding his countryman Lidstrom. He's one of the best two-way players in the game, and paired with Datsyuk on Detroit's top line, they form one of the more lethal one-two punches in the business. Zetterberg wins face-offs, makes plays, and scores goals at just the right time; it's no surprise that head coach Mike Babcock wanted him to be the club's next captain.
DETROIT: Jan Mursak (collarbone), Todd Bertuzzi (mono), Darren Helm (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Jakub Kindl (groin)