The Red Wings have had three days to marinate and work on things before taking on the Blackhawks again tonight. Detroit was blown out, 5-2, by Chicago on Wednesday and just flat out looked inferior. There is no denying that the Blackhawks are a Stanley Cup favourite, but the Red Wings will need to do a better job corralling the Blackhawks superstars this time around.
Chicago lost 4-2 in Boston the next night, but they come in rested as well. The Blackhawks have gone 4-3-0 while averaging 3.14 goals per game over their last seven. Detroit on the other hand has lost five of their last eight (3-3-2) while averaging just 2.25 goals per game.They sit in the first Wild Card spot, four points behind the Bruins, with two games in hand. Let’s break down a huge bounce-back game for the Red Wings!
THE RED WINGS
Up front it looks like the Red Wings will keep things the same, but Brendan Smith is expected to draw back in for Alexei Marchenko. Smith has been a healthy scratch for the last three games, but will be reunited with Mike Green tonight. With Smith drawing back in beside Green, that will also reunite the Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson pairing.
On paper, this team has the look of a team that can do some serious damage. However, their first line of Pavel “The Real Magic Man” Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader have combined for just two goals in their last six games. It also looks like they have two second lines, but the problem is that they’ve been playing more like two third lines. Tomas Tatar comes in on a three-game point streak, picking up one goal and three assists (four points) over that span. Rookie sensation Dylan Larkin has also slowed down drastically—he has no points and a minus-2 rating while averaging just 14:24 TOI in his last five.
Every player I just mentioned has a tons of talent and they need to show up every night if the Red Wings are going to extend this ridiculous playoff streak.
I said the Red Wings look like they have two second lines, but if that’s the case, the Blackhawks certainly have two first lines. Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane lit the Red Wings up on Wednesday, which isn’t necessarily surprising, they’ve done it to everyone this season. On their other first line, Andrew Ladd has a point in each of his three games since being traded to Chicago and so does Jonathan Toews. There’s just so much fire power in this top-6, you can’t stop them, you have to limit them.
Their blueline is anchored by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who combined for one goal and four assists in Wednesday’s win. Basically all of their big names went off earlier in the week, so hopefully Detroit does a better job tonight.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Red Wings’ head coach Jeff Blashill said he will announce his starting goalie on Sunday afternoon. Petr Mrazek was hung-out to dry on Wednesday, allowing five goals on 33 shots. The 24-year-old has gone 13-6-1 with a 2.17 GAA and .930 SV% on the road this season. Jimmy Howard was sensational in his last start, stopping 39 of 41 shots in the OT win in Dallas. His last two starts have been much more like the Jimmy Howard of old, but I doubt he starts today.
For the Blackhawks, it will be Corey Crawford again. Scott Darling started in Thursday’s loss to the Bruins, so Crawford will be back in the crease tonight. Crawford stopped 31 of 33 shots vs. Detroit on Wednesday and he comes in having won three of his last five with a 2.80 GAA and .914 SV%.
WORD FROM THE ENEMY
And of course…
I love afternoon games!
I love afternoon games.
I love afternoon games!
I love afternoon games.#Blackhawks
— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) March 6, 2016
I guess you can classify this as an “afternoon game.” Puck drops at 5:00 p.m. EST, but 4:00 in Chicago. The Blackhawks love afternoon games because they are 4-1-0 while averaging 2.40 goals per game in afternoon games this season. Detroit surely don’t hate afternoon games, going 3-2-1 with 3.00 goals per game in early starts.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 5:00 p.m ET at United Center in Chicago. You can watch it on Fox Sports Detroit or the NHL Network. If you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
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