Good morning Red Wings fans, it’s NFL Conference Finals Sunday, but we’ve also got a flurry of afternoon hockey, starting with the Red Wings and the Rangers.
Friday night wasn’t great, but to steal a football term, it had the makings of a “trap game.” Win three in a row against great teams, including in dramatic fashion against the Bruins and then draw a seemingly easy matchup in Buffalo. The Red Wings didn’t play poorly and were largely unlucky that night. They hit a numbers of goal-posts and crossbars and Thomas Vanek probably should have been awarded a penalty shot in overtime. However, the Red Wings failed to convert on a 4-on-3 in overtime and ended up leaving Buffalo with just a single point.
Shifting our attention to this afternoon, today will be the second of three meetings between the Rangers and Red Wings and Detroit needs to continue to stockpile wins, especially while they have games in hand on the teams ahead of them. The Red Wings won the first game versus the Rangers on the back of a 32-save performance from the now injured Jimmy Howard. Let’s take a look at today’s lineup and starting goalies and break this matinee down.
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings lineup will look at least a little bit different this afternoon, with Niklas Kronwall getting back into the fold. Head coach Jeff Blashill would not announce any other lineup decisions, but you have to assume that Kronwall will replace either Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen. It seems rather unfair to either of those two defensemen, because both have played very well as of late and someone like Danny DeKeyser would probably benefit from watching a game, because his 2016-17 struggles continue.
Up front I would expect the same 12 skaters, because Drew Miller doesn’t offer much except penalty killing prowess. However, Blashill will likely mix his lines up a little bit. The top-6 should remain intact, but Darren Helm, who scored in his return, could swap places with Riley Sheahan and play with Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar. Sheahan simply can’t score right now, so there’s no use having him with Larkin and Tatar until he can get that monkey off of his back.
The Rangers were banged up for a bit, but they’re starting to get healthy again. Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, who make up two-thirds of their second line were both out for an extended period of time, but are both back and playing very well. Buchnevich has been back for four games and has nothing but produce. The rookie winger has two goals and four assists since returning and sits at 14 points (6G / 8A) in his first 14 NHL games. Zibanejad, who was part of one of the biggest offseason trades, has two goals in two games since returning from a broken leg and has 17 points (7G / 10A) in 21 games this season.
Their blueline still has it’s holes and will be without Marc Staal today, as he continues to recover from a concussion. Ryan McDonagh is the leader of their back-end, but Nick Holden has been an unlikely source of offence this season, scoring eight goals with 16 assists (24 points) in 46 games—that’s already better than what he did in 82 games with the Avalanche last season and is one point off of his career high, posted back in 2013-14.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Hearing Coreau will start today and Marchenko scratched for #RedWings
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) January 22, 2017
Henrik Lundqvist has been confirmed as the Rangers starting goalie and I think we’d all be shocked if it isn’t Petr Mrazek for the Red Wings.
Mrazek’s performance in a come-from-behind win over the Bruins seemed to have sparked the young netminder, as he was excellent in Buffalo. Mrazek looked very sharp and a lot like the goalie we saw in 2015-16, which is the goalie we were hoping we’d see this year. Mrazek turned aside 34 of 37 shots in the OT loss and has now stopped 57 of the last 62 shots that he’s faced (.919 SV%). Mrazek stopped 23 of 25 shots in a win in his only career start vs. New York.
Normally when you see “Henrik Lundqvist” you think “aww shit we’re screwed,” but that has been the case lately. King Henrik is coming off of a win in Toronto on Thursday, but has struggled to a 3-4-0 record by posting a 4.44 GAA and .852 SV% in six starts and one relief appearance in January. He’ll likely get back in a groove again soon, lets just hope it doesn’t start today.
THE LAST TIME…
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 12:30pm at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch the game on NBC. If you can’t watch the game you can listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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