I hate to break it you guys, but in case you didn’t already realize it, the streak is going to die in 2017. The Red Wings dropped another game on Thursday and now sit DEAD LAST in the Eastern Conference at 17-19-6 (40 points).
The Red Wings went 2-3-2 on their seven-game road trip and now they return to Joe Louis Arena for three straight. The welcoming committee will be the Pittsburgh Penguins. After tonight, they will welcome the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins to town.
The Red Wings have lost three in a row and five of their last six and in order to get to last year’s 93 points, they will need to go something like 24-11-5 in their remaining 40 games. That would be a .663 points percentage and only six teams have accomplished that to this pint in the season (CBJ, WSH, MIN, PIT, MTL & NYR).
The Pittsburgh Penguins come into play leading the NHL in goals for per game (3.41) with the fourth best power play (22.8%), so the Red Wings are going to be in tough.
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings are expected to ice the same 18 players tonight, but will make a few small tweaks to their lines. Justin Abdelkader has averaged 11:25 TOI in two games since returning to the lineup and likely won’t see a huge increase tonight as he’s expected to skate with the fourth line. Riley Sheahan will get bumped up to the third line—he is still(!!!) looking for his first goal of the season. The former first round pick was a healthy scratch on Thursday, but will replace Steve Ott tonight.
A pair of slumps were snapped on Thursday, despite the unfortunate end result. Gustav Nyquist scored for the first time in 21 games and that goal also snapped a massive road power play drought. The power play, which hasn’t been good in any arena, connected on the road for the first time since October 19th in New York.
With the season virtually lost, the Red Wings should continue to roll out their young players like Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larking regardless of results. They need to get their young players more experience and prepare them for 2017-18 when they’ll look to start a new playoff streak.
The Penguins are straight up loaded. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both tied with Patrick Kane for second in the NHL in points with 45. Despite playing nine fewer games due to injury, Crosby sits just five points back of Connor McDavid (50) for first in the league. He has been nothing short of spectacular so far and Malkin has quietly reached the top-5 in scoring again.
Phil Kessel isn’t far behind with 13 goals and 28 assists (41) and their blueline, which is happy to see Kris Letang healthy, is being led by Justin Schultz, who has 26 points (7G / 19A) in 41 games. Letang has missed 12 games this season, but is near a point-per-game, having scored three goals with 19 assists (22 points) in 29 games.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jared Coreau will be back in the Red Wings’ net tonight. Coreau started last Saturday in San Jose, but was yanked after giving up three goals on 15 shots. His first six NHL starts have all come on the road, so tonight will be his first appearance at Joe Louis Arena. His NHL debut came in Pittsburgh, where he stopped 32 of 36 shots (.889 SV%) in a 5-3 loss. Overall, Coreau is 3-1-1 with a 3.14 GAA and .903 SV% this season and will need to be great tonight to give the Red Wings a chance.
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for the Penguins. Matt Murray started on Thursday, but they’ll go back to Fleury tonight. The 32-year-old has gone 2-4-3 with a 3.86 GAA and .884 SV% on the road this season, which lends hope to the Red Wings. He also started the night of Coreau’s debut and allowed three goals on 31 shots in the win.
THE LAST TIME…
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit. If you can’t watch the game you can listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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