I woke up this morning and checked the NHL Standings and it’s not pretty. The Red Wings are currently last in the Atlantic Division and second last in the Eastern Conference with an 8-10-1 record.
However, they’re only five points out of the final Wild Card spot, so if they can stop the bleeding it’s obviously not too late to climb back into things. The Red Wings have lost nine of their last 11 games while getting outscored 33-20 (3.00 GA/PG-1.82 GF/PG). In case you were wondering, that ranks last in the NHL over that stretch—yes behind the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes. During that time, the Red Wings power-play is clicking at 13.5 percent, while the penalty kill has been brutal at 76.9 percent.
There is some good news for the Red Wings. Over the last three seasons, Detroit have dominated the Sabres, winning 11 of the last 13 meetings (11-1-1) while averaging 3.46 goals for per game.
Let’s take a look at how these two teams stack up in 2016-17:
|Detroit Red Wings||Buffalo Sabres|
|Goals For||2.32 GF/PG (24th)||1.89 GF/PG (30th)|
|Goals Against||2.68 GA/PG (19th)||2.42 GA/PG (11th)|
|Power-Play %||15.9% (18th)||22.2% (7th)|
|Penalty Kill %||78.6% (26th)||80.0% (22nd)|
|CorsiFor%||45.67% (29th)||47.52% (26th)|
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings made some changes at Tuesday’s practice. It started on the blueline with Brendan Smith re-entering the lineup because Alexey Marchenko is out for a few weeks. Up front, Luke Glendening found himself back on a line with Frans Nielsen in the middle and Tomas Tatar on the other wing.
Justin Abdelkader will also move up, which will force Dylan Larkin back down the lineup and back to centre. Larkin has struggled in the face-off dot this season, which is the reason he went back to the wing—he has won just 42.1 percent of his draws.
In Tuesday’s practice, the Red Wings worked on power-play entires for a long time, which will hopefully help get that power-play fired back up.
The Sabres are expected to Ryan O’Reilly back in the lineup tonight. O’Reilly missed the last five games with an oblique injury, but look for him to centre their top line tonight. O’Reilly leads the Sabres in points-per-game with nine points (4G /5A) in 13 games, but their offseason signing Kyle Okposo leads the group in points with 12 (6G / 6A).
The Sabres have a lot of quality, young talent, but without Jack Eichel they’re not very deep. Eichel continues to be sidelined by a leg injury that he suffered days before the start of the regular season.
On the blueline, they’re anchored by Rasmus Ristolainen, who has picked up nine assists in 19 games. They recently recalled Taylor Fedun from Rochester (AHL) and it did not take him line to move to the top power-play unit. In three games since being recalled, Fedun has picked up four assists (three PPA).
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Despite losing the last two games, Jimmy Howard will be in goal for a third consecutive game. Howard will be looking to snap a personal three-game losing streak. He has a .940 save percentage on the season, but has stopped just 88.6 percent of the shots he’s faced over the last three games. Howard has gone 2-2-0 with a 2.42 GAA and .919 SV% in four road starts this season.
For the Sabres, it will be Robin Lehner for the 15th time this season. Lehner is coming off of a 29-save performance in a win over the Flames on Monday and comes in with a 5-7-2 record, 2.49 GAA and .920 SV% in 2016-17. In his five previous starts at KeyBank Center, the 25-year-old netminder has gone 1-3-1 with a 2.59 GAA and .914 SV%.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. ET at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS or you can listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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