Wednesday was tough huh? Tomas Tatar being a late scratch, Brian Elliott standing on his head and no points for the boys. The Red Wings are 0-1-1 since I started writing these Game Days, so if we can’t get a win in Buffalo tonight, you guys are going to be calling for my head!
The Red Wings come in at 1-2-1 in their last four, while the Sabres are 4-2-0 in their last six. Detroit has struggled at Joe Louis Arena (11-9-5), but they’ve played well on the road (12-6-3) and Buffalo has been even worse on home ice. The Sabres are 9-14-2 and average a league worst 2.00 goals per game at home this season, so two points are ripe for the picking tonight!
This is the first game of a back-to-back for the Wings, so they need to start on the right foot. Let’s dive in.
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings made some more changes to their forward lines on Wednesday. Brad Richards will not play because he left the team for personal reasons, but is expected to be back in on Saturday. With Richards out, Joakim Andersson will draw back in. Tomas Tatar took part in Thursday’s practice and is expected to be in the lineup tonight, however he’s been bumped down to the third line. Detroit has only scored seven goals in their last four games, so they’ve reunited the top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Dylan Larkin. They have had a tonne of success this season and hopefully reuniting them can spark the offence.
Brendan Smith missed Thursday’s practice due to general soreness, but he is expected to play and the D-pairs should remain the same as Wednesday.
Buffalo Sabres Lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff
The Sabres did not hold a practice on Thursday so here are their lines from Wednesday’s loss to Colorado. They are already without Zemgus Girgensons and could be missing Sam Reinhart, who suffered an upper-body injury on Wednesday and his status for tonight is uncertain.
The Sabres have scored 3.00 goals per game in the three previous meetings this season and blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen leads the way with five assists. The most exciting part of this matchup, is the two young guns Larkin and Jack Eichel going head-to-head—Eichel has two goals in three games vs. Detroit, while Larkin has a single assist vs. Buffalo.
STARTING IN GOAL
Petr Mrazek has already been confirmed to start in goal for the Red Wings and Robin Lehner is expected to start after making 33-saves on Wednesday.
Mrazek is a stellar 5-1-1, 1.41 GAA and .951 SV% in January, but has surprisingly struggled vs.the Sabres this season—he comes in at 2-1-0 with a 2.96 GAA and .907 in the three previous meetings.
Lehner on the other hand, has only appeared in three games this season after suffering a high ankle sprain in the regular season opener. In three starts he has a .902 adjusted save percentage, which pales in comparison to Mrazek’s .945 AdSV%.
Like he does on most nights, Mrazek gives the Wings the edge in goal.
WORDS FROM THE ENEMY
With another assist last night, Jack Eichel has 16 points in 15 games. Last time a Sabres rookie did that? 1993-94. pic.twitter.com/0JQCbDUeKt
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 21, 2016
Eichel is now tied with Larkin for third in rookie scoring. Both players have 14 goals and 16 assists, but Larkin is still near the top of the league at plus-21 (4th) and Eichel is minus-13.
Note: I know plus/minus is pretty useless, but plus-21 from a rook is worth noting in my opinion!
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. ET at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. You can watch it on Fox Sports Detroit or listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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