The Red Wings were largely unimpressive during their overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday, but they’ve now picked up at least one point in five consecutive games—picking up eight of a possible 10 points.
The Red Wings’ nice little run has seen them leap-frog the Toronto Maple Leafs for sixth in the Atlantic Division, just two points back of the Boston Bruins for third.
Tonight they kick-off their weekend back-to-back in Pittsburgh and they will lean on rookie netminder Jared Coreau tonight. The Red Wings are in Brooklyn on Sunday to take on the Islanders, where Petr Mrazek will get the call.
Let’s focus on tonight’s game first and see how the Red Wings and Penguins stack-up:
|Detroit Red Wings||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Goals For||2.29 GF/PG (t-24th)||3.04 GF/PG (t-4th)|
|Goals Against||2.54 GF/PG (15th)||2.96 GA/PG (24th)|
|Power-Play||15.3% (20th)||19.3% (11th)|
|Penalty-Kill||82.9% (14th)||77.9% (27th)|
|Corsi||46.21 CF% (27th)||51.92 CF% (8th)|
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings continue to get pounded by injuries. Justin Abdelkader suffered a minor MCL strain during Thursday’s loss, so he will be out for 2-4 weeks. With Abdelkader out, the Red Wings recalled Tomas Nosek from Grand Rapids (AHL), but he will not play tonight.
The only line change will see Tomas Jurco move up into Abdelkader’s spot with Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening. Jurco has averaged just 9:32 TOI in his first two games back, but he is bound to see more playing time tonight. Everyone’s favourite “prospect” Anthony Mantha continues to play well atop the Red Wings lineup. He and Henrik Zetterberg, along with Tomas Tatar have been the Red Wings’ best line and were the only line to score on Thursday as well. Detroit is not shooting enough, but Mantha is the one play who is letting the puck fly—he is currently averaging 2.67 shots per game, but you’d love to see him shoot even more.
The Red Wings lost on Thursday because of a bad dump and change decision by Ryan Sproul, but he has played well for the most part and remains one of the only defenseman on the roster who can generate any offence.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines courtesy of DailyFaceoff
The Red Wings seem to always a team who is about to get players back from injury and that will be the case again tonight. Chris Kunitz has missed the last four games, but will likely return to the lineup tonight—he is listed as a game-time decision.
With Kunitz back in, the Penguins have stacked up their top-6, which will make it very difficult for the Red Wings’ to matchup. They’ll have to pick their poison, either match your top pair vs. Sidney Crosby’s line (w/ Patric Hornqvist and Conor Sheary) or vs. Evgeni Malkin’s line (w/ Chris Kunitz and Phil Kessel).
The Penguins’ blueline has some offensive upside, especially on the stick of Kris Letang. Trevor Daley and Justin Schultz are both capable of putting the puck in the net with some regularity as well, but have yet to do so this year (just three goals combined).
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jared Coreau vs. Marc-Andre Fleury.
As I mentioned, it will be Coreau making his NHL debut vs. the Penguins tonight. Head coach Jeff Blashill likely didn’t want Mrazek starting three games in four nights, so they’ll roll Coreau out against the tougher opponent with the hope he can steal one for them and then let Mrazek face the easier opponent to at least give them a chance to pick-up two of four points.
Coreau is a beast. The 25-year-old Canadian netminder stands at 6-foot-6, 220 lbs. and was undrafted, but has worked his way to the NHL with Jimmy Howard sidelined. Coreau was 29-15-2 with a 2.43 GAA and .922 SV% in 47 games in his first year as an AHL starter (2015-16) and has gone 8-5-0 with a 2.39 GAA and .923 SV% in 13 games with Grand Rapids this year.
The Red Wings catch a bit of a break with Fluery starting for Pittsburgh, because Matt Murray has been the better of the two Penguins’ netminders so far this season. Fleury is coming off of a strong game on Thursday, having stopped 33 of 35 shots in a win over the Stars, but he has a below average .904 SV% on the season.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. ET at the PPG Points Arena in Pittsburgh. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or you can listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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