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mancity09

11-11-05 Minnesota at Detroit

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WINGS CORNER: Wild will challenge specialty teams

November 11, 2005

BY GEORGE SIPPLE

FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

It should be a specialty game when the Red Wings host the Minnesota Wild tonight.

The Red Wings have the NHL's top-ranked power play (25.2%). The Wild leads the NHL in overall penalty kill (92.1%) and is tied with the Wings with the best penalty kill on the road (91.6%).

"It's going to be a test for our power play," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We don't think our penalty kill has been nearly as good lately, either. So we want to win the specialty-teams battle: The game within the game. So we're going to have to be prepared for them."

Defensemen Filip Kuba and Nick Schultz, and forwards Pascal Dupuis, Wes Walz and Brian Rolston have been getting the most ice time lately on Minnesota's penalty kill.

"They do a good job, they've got a good scheme, but your goaltender's always your best penalty-killer," Babcock said.

Manny Fernandez, expected to be in goal tonight for Minnesota, leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.82) and save percentage (.939).

Wings defenseman Mathieu Schneider said the Wild "have always been a great penalty-killing team. If you look at some of the success our penalty kill has had, it's pressuring teams down ice, not even letting them get set up in the zone. I think that's a lot of what Minnesota does."

Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said the Wild's penalty kill "seem to be clicking, as a group of four, and that's something we want to get back to as well."

Lidstrom said the Wings have to create traffic in front of the net.

Schneider agreed.

"The style that they play, they keep a lot of shots to the outside," he said. "They do a really good job of eliminating a lot of scoring chances from the slot. That makes it easier for a goalie to see pucks, smother pucks and not let a lot of second chances in there."

MILESTONE: Robert Lang scored the winner in the Wings' 5-4 overtime victory Wednesday over the L.A. Kings. The puck, though, went on a shelf in Brendan Shanahan's locker.

Shanahan recorded his 600th career assist on Lang's goal.

"Nice to know that probably at least 540 of those are rebounds," said Shanahan, who has scored 567 goals.

Shanahan said he doesn't have the pucks from his 400th or 500th assists, but he was happy to hit the mark.

"I wouldn't say it's a big deal, but it's nice," said Shanahan, 36. "You get to this point in your career and things like that kind of sneak up on you. It's not a big deal. Probably give the puck away to somebody."

Shanahan did say with a grin that he thought "the guys should buy me something."

Kirk Maltby, sitting a couple of lockers over, immediately asked why. Maltby said he might buy him dinner this weekend.

NOTEBOOK: Besides scoring seven goals in his past four games, Tomas Holmstrom leads the team with a plus-12 plus/minus rating, ahead of linemate Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Andreas Lilja, who are plus-11.

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Thought I would start a game thread since I'm watching tonight, even though I don't watch much hockey and don't know the finer points of the game.

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Thanks for the updates mancity!

My pleasure. End of 2nd period, Detroit leads 2-0, and they are looking pretty good tonight.

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Babcock and company looking like geniuses once again. I love how they were watching what Minny was doing early and taking notes, then coming out in the second period and dominating.

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And its over, the Wings win 3-1 and improve their rercord to 15-2-1 for the season.

Props to another FireFly fan!

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