What a difficult time to be a Detroit sports fan. The Red Wings are struggling mightily, putting their playoff streak on the line and Calvin Johnson has retired from pro football, much like Barry Sanders, far too early. The Red Wings are coming off of an ugly loss to the Blue Jackets, where they actually came back and forced overtime after sleepwalking for the first 50 minutes of the contest.
The Red Wings come into tonight’s game in the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re one point behind the Penguins for the fist Wild Card Spot, six points back of the Bruins for third in the Atlantic and just two points ahead of the Flyers, who are off until tomorrow.
Tonight, the Winnipeg Jets are in town and hopefully they don’t show up. The Jets have struggled since losing Bryan Little to injury and Andrew Ladd to a trade. They’ve lost five of their last six while averaging just 2.17 goals per game. The Red Wings aren’t much better…they come in on a three-game losing streak and they lost their first meetings with the Jets, 4-1 back in late-December. Let’s break it down!
THE RED WINGS
I miss Nicklas Lidstrom. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were split up for the majority of Tuesday’s loss and that will be the case to start tonight. The one thing that stands out when you look at this lineup is Andreas Athanasiou is skating on the second line with Pavel Datsyuk. Now that’s going to be fun. Teemu Pulkkinen will also draw back into the lineup for Tomas Jurco, but Brendan Smith remains a healthy scratch, for whatever reason. In addition to shaking up all four forward lines, all three D-pairings have been mixed as well.
The Jets are shorthanded, which means we should take advantage of them, but will we? Little, Nikolaj Ehlers and Joel Armia are all out, so Matt Halischuk, Scott Kosmachuk and J.C. Lipon are all up from Manitoba (AHL). Since Little went down, Mark Scheifele has stepped up in a big, big way. He has eight goals and five assists (13 points) in nine games and comes in riding a five-game point streak. Dustin Byfuglien hasn’t been as hot, but hot nonetheless. The big defenseman has nine points (1G / 8A) in his last 10 games.
BETWEEN THE PIPES?
Notice I added a question mark? That’s because I have no clue who will start. Jimmy Howard started on Tuesday and gave up four goals, so Petr Mrazek is expected to start tonight. He was yanked in his last outing, giving up two goals on five shots in the loss to the Blackhawks. Mrazek’s play has taken a turn for the worst as of late, but hopefully he gets it back on track tonight. Mrazek is 11-6-5 with a 2.16 GAA and .920 SV% home home ice.
For the Jets it will either be Ondrej Pavelec or Michael Hutchinson. Pavelc has lost his last two starts, while giving up six goals on 62 shots (.903 SV%). He is 2-5-1 with a 2.88 GAA and .893 SV% since returning to the Jets’ crease in the middle of February. Hutchinson has also lost each of his last two starts while giving up a combined eight goals on 60 shots (.867 SV%) and really hasn’t been good all season.
WORDS FROM THE ENEMY
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 9, 2016
Paul Maurice is always an interesting character, so here’s an interview with him. If you want more Jets news, visit our “friends” (not friends today, not at all) at JetsNation.ca
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m ET at Joe Louis Arena. 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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