After a disastrous loss to the Flyers on Tuesday, the Red Wings have made things a little more difficult on themselves. They’re coming off of a huge win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday and tonight they will meet the Panthers for the fourth and final time of the season. After seeing a combined 83 shots fired on goal vs. the Flyers, Thursday’s 50 shots was a little more pedestrian, but whatever gets the job done!
Despite the win the Red Wings’ power-play was still unable to score on three tries. Remember that huge 6-5 win over the Bruins back in February? Well, since then the Red Wings power-play has been god awful. It has been 15 games since and the Red Wings have scored just four power-play goals on 48 attempts for 8.3%. Detroit has lost two of the first three meetings, but obviously need to tie that series up at 2-2. Detroit comes in with a one point lead over the Flyers, but Philadelphia still has two games in hand. Thankfully, the Flyers and Penguins face off this afternoon, so just pray for no overtime! Let’s breakdown our matchup though!
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings forward lines are expected to remain the same as they have been since Anthony Mantha was recalled from Grand Rapids. He has played well alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar, but is still in search for his first career NHL point. Surprisingly, it has been Darren Helm leading the charge as of late, picking up three goals and one assist in his last four contests.
It looks like the blueline will get some help with Niklas Kronwall expected to return vs. the Panthers. Kronwall has missed the last three games, but he was back at practice on Friday and said he is hopeful to play tonight. Kronwall had just three assists in eight games after returning from his first knee injury.
The Red Wings will see a few familiar faces tonight. A couple former Wings are expected to suit up for the Panthers. Jakub Kindl was acquired from Detroit right before the deadline and Jiri Hudler was brought in from Calgary. The additions the Panthers made before March have made them a really deep team that has three lines all capable of scoring.
Jonathan Huberdeau has been red-hot since returning to the lineup on March 7th, picking up two goals and six assists in six games. He continues to play on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr who have scored all season long. Over that same six-game stretch, Barkov has five points (4G / 1A) and Jagr has seven (3G / 4A). Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen have been just as hot, so the Red Wings’ defence will need to be on point if they’re going to slow this Panthers team down.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
With Petr Mrazek still sick, Jimmy Howard will start for a second straight game. Howard is coming off of a 27-save performance in Thursday’s win over the Blue Jackets. He was close to recording his second shutout of the season, until Alexander Wennberg pushed a power-play marker by him with one minute left in the game. Howard has looked significantly better in his last five starts, going 2-2-1 with a 2.06 GAA and .934 SV%. Despite his recent success, he had a tough go in his first start vs. the Panthers, allowing five goals and 32 shots in a 6-3 loss in early February.
Roberto Luongo is expected to start for Florida. Luongo stopped 32 of 33 shots in the Panthers 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs on Thursday. The veteran netminder has won three of his last four starts and has gone 4-2-0 despite posting a below-average 2.98 GAA and .899 SV% in the month of March. He is 2-0-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .941 SV% in his first two starts against the Red Wings.
WORDS FROM THE ENEMY
— Harvey Fialkov (@hfialkov) March 18, 2016
I’m not sure why the Panthers rock the “Spacey in Space” sweatshirt, but it’s hilarious and Spacey will apparently be at the game tonight. This worries me. It might motivate the Panthers and President Underwood is an intimidating dude. (Sorry if you don’t watch House of Cards).
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m ET at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. You can watch it on the Fox Sports-Plus or 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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