1. Jimmy Howard has struggled a little since the Olympic break. The layoff seems to have left him a little rusty. Can he hold up in this key game against Calgary?
2. Datsyuk and Bertuzzi both missed practice today. Both are supposed to be ready to go on Tuesday, but if I’ve learned one thing from this season, it’s that the worst-case scenario almost always happens. Will their nagging issues affect their play significantly? It would be a shame to see Datsyuk’s post-Olympic tear suffer because of a flu bug.
3. Over the last little while, the Wings’ powerplay has slowly started to become respectable. Will their special teams keep up the good work, or will one of them start to falter? In the recent past, either the PK or the powerplay seems to be strong, but not both at the same time.
4. From what I read today, Jonathan Ericsson is going to be returning to the lineup tomorrow. How is he going to respond to his benching? Getting sat in favor of Brett Lebda has to be demoralizing for anybody, but especially a guy like Ericsson with his Adonis-like qualities.
It’s looking more and more like it’s going to be a three-horse race for the 7th and 8th seeds in the West. Five points separate the 5/6 teams from 7th place, and there are 4 points between Calgary in 9th and St. Louis in 10th. There’s a pack of teams from 10th to 13th that could definitely challenge if they put together a strong run (Anaheim *cough* Anaheim), and catching up to LA, Colorado, and even Vancouver and Phoenix isn’t out of the question for the Wings if they get going, but I’d put my money on the boys fighting with Nashville and Calgary for those last precious playoff seeds. Losing to Calgary tomorrow isn’t an option for the Wings, but you already knew that. I just hope that they do too.