MacDonald to Start in Phoenix

When Jimmy Howard broke his index finger of his blocker hand, Detroit fans panicked as if it was signs of the apocalypse. It might not be that bad. 

With a healthy lead in the Western Conference standings, a few losses won't drop them out of playoff contention. If the Wings are sitting anywhere in the top four and get home ice advantage it's a plus, especially because of their mind boggling 17 game home winning streak at the Joe Louis Arena. 

What should be concerning is the play in front of the goaltenders when someone other than Howard is in net. For example, Ty Conklin is playing like a bag of flaming dog feces. No one can help that and I didn't see that coming at the beginning of the year. Conklin seemed to be the right guy for the job and he signed a small one year deal. Perfect for situations like this where you know he won't be back next year.

Joey MacDonald was recalled from Grand Rapids and stole the show in Edmonton. Even though they lost 5-4 in a shootout (he only let in one goal), Joey Mac had a great game in the pipes and in forty minutes surpassed Conklin as the clear cut backup behind Howard.

While this might be in the eyes of Red Wings fans, it too is noticed by Wings brass, because Mike Babcock said MacDonald will start in goal tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes. "You talk about opportunity; here it is," said Babcock about MacDonald's chance to seize the backup role.

It seems to me that Conklin doesn't care that much. There's no emotion and when he let's in a crappy goal he just sits there like he let in a goal at practice.

Detroit can't panic just because Howard is out. They don't need to spend picks and prospects on a backup goalie, so just calm down. The reason is because if Howard would go down in the playoffs, we're screwed anyway. Even if Evgeni Nabokov, who seems like the only fit, were to start in the post season, it probably wouldn't go like we expect it to. If need be, give up a middling prospect for his aging goalie butt and let him sit on the bench when Howard get's back. As for Conklin? Banish him to the forest so he can live with Ilya Bryzgalov.

Dan Cleary and Brad Stuart will both play tonight despite minor injuries. Mike Commodore is out for Jakub Kindl. Jan Mursak is scratched unless Cleary can't play. Patrick Eaves is still out with a broken jaw. Mike Smith starts for Phoenix. Catch the game at 8 pm!

The Checking Line - Red Wings Edition


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Kyle Busch