Photo: Associated Press

Yes, Detroit (*spitting noise*) has won 23 straight at home; and yes, that is an all-time NHL record — which will continue to grow until they lose. But they have a problem.

They’re in OUR house today, and the Blackhawks are on a winning streak of their own. So if they think they’re going to have an easy time of it this evening, they came to the wrong place. December 30th ring a bell, bitches?

I don’t need to tell you much about their personnel situation, other than it hasn’t changed. One cog in their wheel, winger Danny Cleary, is coming back from a short rest after re-aggravating an existing knee injury, but as of this writing he is scheduled to be on the ice tonight. The only other change of note is in goal, where Ty Conklin has been Niittymaki-ed — returned from injury only to find his backup job taken by an upstart.

But in this case, instead of some up-and-comer, Conklin was placed on waivers on Monday due to the ascension of Joey MacDonald. “Who?” you ask? So did I. MacDonald is a 32-year-old career minor-leaguer. He had under 90 NHL games to his credit until this season, and over 9 seasons in the ECHL and AHL he is just 22 games over .500. But in his 8 starts with the Red Wings, he has gone 6-1-1.

I point this out to illustrate what people were saying as Chris Osgood retired and talk turned to his nomination to the Hall of Fame. Prevailing opinion, mine included, was that Osgood would not have anywhere CLOSE to the list of stats and accolades that he did without the Red Wings in front of him. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you Joey MacDonald: aging-shit-bag-minor-leaguer-turned-NHL-backup-star for one reason, and one reason only — he has the Red Wings in front of him. Coach Grumpy Gills could give the starting job to a geriatric Irish Setter in street hockey equipment, and he’d likely end the year with a 2.25 GAA.

The prosecution rests.

But I digress.

Getting back to the team’s success at home, we find what is the most interesting stat about the Red Wings besides their colossal winning streak: on the road, they are a .500 team! 15-15-1. What’s more, when they are not losing on the road, they are losing BIG on the road. Since the dawn of the new year, they’ve been whipped 5-1 by the Islanders (what’s wrong, did they play Rick DiPietro that night and you couldn’t get anything past him?), and 7-2 by Montreal, among their other woeful performances away from the Motor City.

This is a beatable team. They are not dominating anyone, no matter where they play — a stark contrast to the gonad-bashings they took in January. Of the 8 wins they have in February, 2 went to a shootout, 2 were by a 2-goal differential, and the other four they won by a single tally. This team does NOT run circles around anyone.

Translation: Detroit (*spitting noise*) is ripe for the picking. And they’re marching into the Madhouse tonight for a healthy dose of verbal abuse, and hopefully a thrashing by a Blackhawks team that is starting to come together nicely.

Don’t expect any changes from the last 3 games in terms of personnel. Those of you who have gotten used to Head Coach Joel Quenneville’s tricks and habits know by now that when the team is winning, the lineup stays the same. That will be the case again tonight, with Michael Frolik and Brendan Morrison eating popcorn in the press box and John Scott at wing on the fourth line.

Keeping the roster frozen is also a big bonus in another way: Nick Leddy will likely be paired with Brent Seabrook again, and that’s good news. Leddy was a plus-1 in two straight games, something he has rarely done all season, and has had no glaring foul-ups since being paired with Seabrook. This appears to be the answer to the Nick Leddy problem, and if Coach QStache has the good sense to keep those two together as Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador return to the lineup, that pairing might just be the 1-B to a Duncan Keith/whomever 1-A to start the playoffs. A very nice position to be in.

The other defenseman to keep an eye on happens to be the other rookie on the blue line: recent call-up Dylan Olsen. He took a while to get his feet under him, but has gotten into the groove of late. He followed up a plus-3 effort against Columbus by going plus-2 against the Blues, and is regularly playing more than 18 minutes a night. He’s shown that the weakness in his game is lack of straight-ahead speed, which will have to be worked on this summer if he wants to establish himself as a roster player. But for now he’s proving to be a reliable substitute for our injured d-men. We’ll watch and see if he gets a chance to stay with the big boys as our veteran players return from injury.

And how about our super-stars in the last 3 games? The 4 forwards that were slumping simultaneously during the losing streak — Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa — have all come on like gangbusters during our short winning streak. Those guys have combined for 7 goals and 11 assists in just those 3 games. That’s great news for the Blackhawks, though the 4 of them are going to have to keep that pace up for this team to have a chance at winning every night. Now’s not the time to coast, fellas; in fact, we need you to step on the gas a little more.

Administrative nonsense: Assuming Cleary is back, the only other injury for the Wings is forward Patrick Eaves who has only 10 games under his belt for the season. For the Blackhawks, Hjalmarsson is nearing the point of re-joining the lineup, and is likely a game-time decision for tonight. Montador, for his part, continues to exist in the nebulous Kim Johnsson land of “no change” to his condition. No mention of a timetable for return; no discussion of doctor visits or surgical procedures; no interviews with the press. This screams “concussion,” and likely a bad one. I don’t have any insider information, this is pure speculation and nothing more; but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see Monty again until training camp. Between the pipes it will be Jimmy Howard for the Scum; Corey Crawford will start for Chicago.

It’s a 7:00pm puck drop at the UC this evening. The game is live on the air from the Rio Grande to the Arctic circle: Chicagoland viewers will have Pat and Eddie (?) on Comcast SportsNet; American viewers outside Chicago will see the game on NBC SportsNet (formerly Versus); and Canadian viewers will be able to tune in on TSN2. Broadcast radio is handled by WGN AM-720; XM subscribers will find the game on channel 206; and Sirius Premiere customers should tune in on channel 217.

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