The Red Wings’ streak was going to come to an end eventually, especially the way they were winning. Detroit continues to rely too heavily on their goaltending. That can work, especially the way Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard have been playing, but it’s not necessarily a formula for long-term success.
The Red Wings won’t have any time to dwell on the loss, as they get right back into action versus the Florida Panthers tonight. This will be the second meeting of the young season between Detroit and Florida and if you remember, the first game didn’t go well. The Red Wings lost 4-1 and were outshout 38-22.
Since that game, the Red Wings are obviously 6-1-0, while the Panthers have limed (literally) to a 1-4-1 record and come in on a three-game losing skid. Florida is also coming in on the tail-end of a back-to-back, having been shutout by Anders Nilsson and the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon. Injuries have plagued the Panthers early-on, but if the first meeting was any indication, this team can’t be taken lightly.
Let’s take a look at tonight’s lineups and starting goalies.
THE RED WINGS
Because of the back-to-back, the Red Wings will not hold a morning skate, so it’s unknown if they’ll make any lineup changes. Thomas Vanek was called day-to-day on Saturday, which suggests that he won’t be ready for tonight’s game. Expect the 18 skaters to remain the same, but don’t be surprised if the lines are juggled a little.
Last night the Red Wings only had five players with a positive CorsiFor% (via hockeystats.ca)—Andreas Athanasiou (61.54%), Henrik Zetterberg (57.69%), Jonathan Ericsson (55.0%), Justin Abdelkader (52.0%) and Tomas Tatar (52.0%)—while the rest of the team was in the negative. After a few good games, the Red Wings’ fourth line was absolutely murdered once again. The O.M.G Line has had it’s moments, but they’ve been few and far between and are mostly an anchor to what’s an otherwise strong lineup.
The Red Wings have had big secondary scoring contributions to start the season, but they need a lot more from their big guns. Zetterberg has yet to score a goal and Zetty, Tatar, Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin have combined for just six goals in nine games. That’s not going to get the job done.
The average fan probably doesn’t even recognize five or six of the Panthers’ forwards and that’s thanks to injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau, Jussi Jokinen and Nick Bjugstad. The Panthers are missing a player from their first, second and third line and it shows.
As I mentioned in my first gameday preview versus the Panthers, it is normally their second line that kills us, but hopefully that won’t be the case with Jokinen out of the lineup. In the first meeting, the first line did a lot of the damage, and that has been the case in almost all of their games—through eight games the Panthers have 20 goals and their top line has 40 percent of those goals. With Hubderdeau out, Jonathan Marchessault has been given a shot on the top line and he has not disappointed—Marchessault leads the team with 10 points (5G / 5A).
Their blueline is a real strength, but they have not gotten the offensive contributions that they were expecting coming into the season, especially from Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle. Ekblad is one of the best young defensemen in the NHL, but he has just one goal and Yandle has no goals and two assists to start his Panthers career. Regardless, this is a good group that Detroit had a tough time with a few weeks ago.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
With both teams playing last night, it’s pretty easy to guess at who starts tonight. Howard started yesterday, so it should be Mrazek for the Red Wings and James Reimer for the Panthers after Roberto Luongo starts vs. Buffalo.
Mrazek has won four straight starts while posting an impressive 1.71 GAA and .945 SV%. He was excellent in the first game vs. Florida as well—Mrazek stopped 34 of 37 shots in the loss and if it weren’t for him, Detroit likely would have lost by six or seven.
Reimer has lost each of his first two starts with the Panthers, while allowing a combined six goals on 50 shots (.880 SV%). During his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Reimer made six starts and one relief appearance vs. Detroit and went 1-3-1 with a 2.81 GAA and .908 SV%. The Red Wings have had success against Reimer, so let’s hope that continues tonight.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 5:00 p.m. ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit-Plus or listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter; we’ll have live tweets, GIFS, and all the fun stuff that a topical social media platform has.