The Red Wings come into Tuesday night having lost four in a row (0-2-2) while averaging just 1.50 goals per game. Detroit has all of a sudden hit the skids, but can get back on track tonight with the Blue Jackets in town on the wrong end of a back-to-back.
Columbus is coming off of a 6-4 win in Boston. They’ve played well since the break, going 5-2-1 while averaging just 2.38 goals per game. Tonight is the first of three meetings between the Red Wings and Blue Jackets—they play three times in the next 23 days. Let’s break it down!
THE RED WINGS
These are the lines the Red Wings rolled with on Sunday in New York. Considering they were shutout for the first time this season I would expect head coach Jeff Blashill to tinker the lines in today’s morning skate.
Dylan Larkin has struggled offensively as of late. He has just one goal and a minus-5 rating in his last six games and played a season-low 11:41 TOI on Sunday, but that could be related to him missing Saturday’s game with an illness. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg continue to skate together, but they were held off of the scoresheet in back-to-back games for the for the first time since being reunited. Datsyuk has a ridiculous 67 points (21G / 46A) in 59 career games vs. the Blue Jackets.
On the blueline, Blashill announced that Jonathan Ericsson (lower-body) won’t play, but Niklas Kronwall could return. Kronwall has been out since January 17th, but he will take part in the morning skate and the Red Wings will decide on his status after.
*** Morning Skate Update: Nyquist has been moved to the top line, Abdelkader to the second. The bottom-6 has been shuffled as well, which is no surprise after being shutout on Sunday. It looks like Kronwall will return tonight, paired with Marchenko. Xavier Ouellet will be scratched and Jakub Kindl will be assigned to Grand Rapids ***
THE BLUE JACKETS
The Blue Jackets probably won’t alter the lineup that pushed six past former Red Wings’ netminder Jonas Gustavsson last night. Boone Jenner led the way with two, which gives him 21 on the season. When you look at their top-6 the average fan might think this is a terrible hockey team, but that’s not the case. Alex Wennberg is an up-and-coming centre, who has five points (1G / 4A) in his last five games and Cam Atkinson has picked up six points (2G / 4A) in his last eight. Brandon Dubinsky and Scott Hartnell are leaned on as savvy veterans and Brandon Saad is a borderline superstar. We all know him from his days with the Blackhawks, he has three goals and two assists in eight career games against the Red Wings.
Their blueline is filled with big bodies that can play rugged, but also fill the back of the net. Ryan Murray was the second overall pick in 2012, Jack Johnson was the third overall selection in 2005 and Seth Jones was fourth overall in 2013. They’re loaded with young, talented defensemen that could pose a problem tonight.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jimmy Howard is coming off of his best performance in a very long time, but Petr Mrazek is still expected to start tonight vs. the Blue Jackets. It would probably be great for Howie’s confidence to go back to him, but Mrazek is in need of a confidence boost as well. He has lost three of his last four while posting a 3.55 GAA and .863 SV%.
Curtis McElhinney will likely make his first start since January 2nd with Joonas Korpisalo starting last night and giving up four. McElhinney missed time with an ankle injury, but comes in a 2-6-2- with a 3.29 GAA and .890 SV%. It is far to say the Red Wings’ should have the edge in goal tonight.
WORDS FROM THE ENEMY
— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 23, 2016
I don’t know why they’re so upset, they won last night, we haven’t won since February 14th. As of today we hold down the first Wild Card spot, just one point back of third place Boston and second place Tampa Bay. Detroit needs to start putting a few wins together to secure their berth in the playoffs for a 25th straight season.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch it on the NBC Sports Network or Fox Sports Detroit. If you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter; we’ll have live tweets, GIFS, and all the fun stuff that a topical social media platform has.