Heading into last week, it was easy to see that it was going to be a tough week for the Red Wings. In Dallas and then a home-and-home with the Blackhawks…that’s a tough three games. It got off to a nice start with a 3-2 OT win over the Stars, but was followed up with an embarrassing loss on home ice and then a better performance but yet another three-goal loss in Chicago on Sunday. So, the Red Wings got two out of a possible six points, but that’s behind us, let’s focus on the week ahead.
Detroit has four games this week, which gets underway tonight in Columbus. They follow that up on home-ice vs. the Jets on Thursday and then a weekend back-to-back against the Rangers and Maple Leafs. Tonight will be the second of three meetings between the Red Wings and Blue Jackets—Detroit won the first 2-1 in a shootout two weeks ago.
Things are getting nerve racking. Detroit enters play tonight in the final Wild Card spot in the East, two points ahead of Philadelphia and six spots behind the Bruins with two games in hand. Let’s break tonight’s matchup down!
THE RED WINGS
Pavel Datsyuk was a late scratch on Sunday due to an illness, but he took part in Monday’s practice and is hopeful that he will be in the lineup tonight. With Pavel back, the forward lines went back to the way that they have been. The offence has completely fallen asleep in Detroit. Since their 6-5 win vs. the Bruins on February 14th, the Red Wings have averaged just 2.00 goals per game while going 3-4-2.
While the forwards are expected to look the same, the blueline will look different. Nicholas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will remain together but Alexey Marchenko draws back into the lineup beside Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith will return to the press box, which leaves Mike Green and Kyle Quincey to play together on the third pairing.
To put it bluntly. No one is scoring. This team needs to wake up or they’re going to be in trouble. The team that is right behind us, the Philadelphia Flyers, just blew this team out 6-0 on Saturday, so we certainly can’t lose this one.
THE BLUE JACKETS
It looks like the Blue Jackets will be without their leading goal scorer Brandon Saad, who missed Saturday’s game and Monday’s practice with an upper-body injury. With Saad out, David Clarkson will play a bigger role for the Jackets, but the Red Wings will need to keep tabs on the line of Scott Hartnell–Alex Wennberg–Nick Foligno, who have combined for six goals and 11 assists (17 points) in their last seven games.
On the back-end, the Blue Jackets are also missing Jack Johnson and could be without Ryan Murray, who missed Monday’s practice with an illness and is questionable for tonight’s contest.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
With Petr Mrazek losing both of his starts vs. starts vs. the Blackhawks, Jimmy Howard will get the nod tonight in Columbus. Howard was sensational last Monday, stopping 39 of 41 shots in the Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout win over the Stars. He also played pretty well in relief of Mrazek on Wednesday, but in his last two starts, he is 1-0-1 while turning aside 68 of 71 shots for a .956 SV%. Howie has also performed well vs. the Blue Jackets in his career—11-5-3 with a 1.90 GAA, .930 SV% and three shutouts in 20 career starts vs. Columbus.
It is unknown who will start for the Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t played since January 21st, but has been participating in practice for nearly one week, so he could be ready to make a return tonight. If he isn’t quite ready, look for Joonas Korpisalo to start. Korpisalo has won four of his last five starts while posting a 2.57 GAA and .911 SV%.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m ET at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. You can watch it on Fox Sports Detroit. 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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