The Red Wings return from the All-Star break at .500 (20-20-9) and will take on the Devils for the second time this season.
The Eastern Conference is a log-jam and the Red Wings still have a chance to get back to the playoffs for the 26th straight season, but their chances are dwindling. Detroit comes in seven points back of the Flyers for the final Wild Card spot and the same amount of points behind the Bruins for third in the Atlantic.
The Red Wings beat the Devils 5-4 in overtime back in November and will be looking for a similar result tonight. With all that said, the Red Wings are better served to see that playoff streak snapped and to be sellers at the deadline, but we’ll see how the organization approaches this next few weeks.
The Red Wings come in on a four-game losing streak (0-1-3) and will play three of their next four at Joe Louis Arena—vs. NJD, vs. NYI, @ NSH, vs. CBJ.
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings will get Dylan Larkin (upper-body) back in the lineup tonight, so Drew Miller was sent to Grand Rapids (AHL) to make room for him. With Larkin returning, the Red Wings will go to a familiar looking lineup.
After inexplicably being broken up before the Toronto game, Andreas Athanasiou-Frans Nielsen-Thomas Vanek has been reunited. That trio has played 81:20 together at even strength this season and their results are staggering. Now sample size is important, but it’s worth noting that they’ve scored nine goals and only given up one, while posting a 58.3 CorsiFor%—all three players have a CF% under 50.0 when they aren’t playing together. (All stats per Puckalytics)
This also means that Gustav Nyqvist-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha will be back together. They’ve played over 100 minutes together, with less success than the trio mentioned above, but has still been one of the Red Wings’ better lines—but Zetterberg and Mantha have actually performed better with Tomas Tatar (57.75 CF% in 212 TOI 5v5 per Corsica).
The Red Wings won’t make any changes to the blueline, which isn’t a surprise given they don’t have many options. Nick Jensen has played well since being called up and that puts the Red Wings in a tough spot. He will have to go through waivers if they want to send him back to Grand Rapids and with Brendan Smith poised to return this weekend, the Red Wings have to send someone down. Jensen’s strong play makes him a risky option to try and sneak through waivers. So will it be Ryan Sproul, who can’t seem to crack the lineup? Alexey Marchenko, who has been healthy scratch for four in a row now? Or, will Ken Holland get more creative and expose Jonathan Ericsson and his massive contract to the waiver wire? That would be the best way to guarantee no one gets claimed and it’s not like sending him to the Griffins will hurt this team.
The Devils are led by former Edmonton Oiler Taylor Hall, who has missed some time this season, but leads the Devils with 31 points (11G / 20A) in 40 games this season. The Devils have a good mix of veterans and young players up front. Travis Zajac and Mike Cammalleri continue to have good seasons in the Devils’ top-6 while they bring along younger players like Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha and Stefan Noesen, who was just claimed off waivers from Anaheim. Noesen is a former first round pick and scored a goal in 11:46 TOI in his Devils’ debut last Thursday.
Their blueline is similar in terms of veterans and younger skaters. They’re without two of their regular top-6 in Andy Greene and John Moore, who will both sit dup to injuries. With them out, Karl Stollery and Steven Santini have been given opportunities and are making the most of them. Stollery has three assists in eight games and Santini has picked up five points (2G / 3A) in 13 games after not recording a point in 15 games with Albany (AHL) before his call-up.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jared Coreau vs. Cory Schneider.
Coreau will be back in net after resting last Wednesday. In his last start Coreau allowed four goals on 49 shots in the Red Wings’ overtime loss to the Bruins. Coreau has gone 2-0-1 with a 2.20 GAA and .908 SV% at Joe Louis Arena this season and the Devils come in ranked 28th in the NHL in scoring (2.20 GF/PG).
Schneider has had a tough season, but has turned things around going 4-3-2 with a 2.09 GAA and .931 SV% in 10 games in January. Despite those impressive numbers, Schneider has really struggled on the road. In 19 starts in cities not named New Jersey the 30-year-old has four wins (4-10-5) with a 2.98 GAA and .905 SV%. This bodes well for the Red Wings.
THE LAST TIME…
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 7:30pm 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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