Happy St. Patrick’s Day to the Red Wings faithful! It’s too bad this isn’t an afternoon game so we could have the ability to drown our sorrows in green beer if we fall to the Blue Jackets again. We’re going to consume a few extra brews this afternoon because the Philadelphia Flyers went into Chicago on the tail-end of a back-to-back and won…Chicago, who has the second best home record in the NHL, has been sliding (since they dismantled us twice of course) and they started their backup goalie for no apparent reason at all. Detroit
Tonight will be the third and final meeting between these two teams and also the third meeting in under one month. The Red Wings and Blue Jackets have split the first two meetings and Detroit had an absolutely terrible outing in the last meeting. They nearly completed the come-from-behind win, but fell short. The Red Wings need to actually show up in the first period this time around, but this, like the rest of the season appears to be a must-win for a team looking to extend their playoff streak to 25. Let’s break this one down.
THE RED WINGS
Tuesday’s first period was obviously one of the worst displays we’ve seen from this team in a long time, but there were some positives to take away from the second and third. Well, offensively. The blueline was an absolute disaster all night. However, we’re past looking for positives right now, we need results. Henrik Zetterberg looked like he was in his prime again, taking over in the offensive zone and their second line of Tomas Tatar–Pavel Datstuk–Anthony Mantha looked really dangerous all night long. Tatar generated a goal by working hard on the forecheck, Mantha impressed in his NHL debut, recording four shots in nearly 15 minutes and rattled one off of the post on a breakaway. I would expect the top-6 to look exactly the same tonight, which likely means that the bottom-6 will as well. They scored three and probably could have had like five or six on Tuesday, hopefully that carries into tonight’s matchup.
They only have six healthy defensemen, so unfortunately the defence will look the same as well. Kyle Qunicey had one of his worst games of the season, Jonathan Ericsson out did himself with the most egregious turnover ever, Danny DeKeyser didn’t have his best night and had an own-goal. In addition, it often looked like Mike Green was trying to stick-handle a bouncy ball and I’ll try to leave Brendan Smith and Alexey Marchenko alone for now. They need to be much, much better than Tuesday if they’re going to claw their way back into the playoffs.
THE BLUE JACKETS
Thankfully for the Red Wings, the Blue Jackets will be without their designated face-puncher Dalton Prout, who is suspended to pushing Nikita Kucherov in the face. Shocker. They’ve recalled John Ramage, who I know very little about, which is a good thing I’d think. The Blue Jackets will also be without veteran Fedor Tyutin, so Justin Falk has been recalled and will draw into the lineup. Upfront they’ve changed their lines up after also calling up Oliver Bjorkstrand and Michael Chaput. Bjorkstrand had 118 points (63G / 55A) in his last season with Portland (WHL) and has 25 points (15G / 10A) in 46 games with Lake Erie (AHL) this season.
Detroit will need to keep their eye on the usual suspects, Cam Atkinson, who had two goals and one assist in their last meeting, Boone Jenner, who has three points (2G / 1A), and Brandon Dubninsky who has three assists in the first two meetings.
If you look at the Blue Jackets last four games, they were destroyed by the Flyers, beat us, loss to the Penguins and were shutout by the Lightning. That’s bad. All the teams we’re chasing were able to beat them and we weren’t. We have to turn things around this evening.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Petr Mrazek is out with an illness, so Jared Coreau has been recalled to backup Jimmy Howard tonight. His last start came in Columbus, when he allowed four goals on 31 shots in the loss. Howie is 1-2-1 with a 2.34 GAA and .927 SV% in his last four outing, but has struggled to a 3-5-4 record on the road this season.
Sergei Bobrovsky will make his third straight start. He has lost each of his first two starts since returning to the Blue Jackets crease, while allowing a combined seven goals on 68 shots (.897 SV%), which naturally means he’ll stand on his head tonight…Looking at you Jonathan Bernier.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 17, 2016
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m ET at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. You can watch it on the 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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