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WGD: GAME 6: RED WINGS VS. LIGHTNING

The Red Wings went into Vegas on Friday and handed the Golden Knights their first loss in franchise history and wrapped up their four-game road-trip at 3-1-0.

It has been an excellent start to the season for the Red Wings, who return home to face a familiar foe tonight. However just as easily as the Red Wings started 4-1-0, they could just as easily be 4-4-0 by Friday. They haven’t faced the greatest of competition thus far and their next three games will be a true test of where they stand. It starts tonight with the Tampa Bay Lightning then in Toronto on Wednesday before hosting the Washington Capitals on Friday—those three teams have combined for an 11-4-1 record while averaging a combined 4.31 goals for per game to start the season.

Even during a troubling 2016-17 season for the Lightning, they still had the Red Wings number. Detroit just can’t seem to figure Tampa Bay out, losing all five of their meetings last season (0-4-1) while being outscored 21-12. Dating back to 2014-15, including the playoffs, Detroit has gone 7-15-3 while averaging 2.08 goals for and 2.92 goals against in 25 games vs. the Lightning.

It hasn’t been pretty vs. Tampa Bay, but let’s see how they matchup tonight anyways.

Record 4-1-0 (t-1st in ATL) 4-1-0 (t-1st in ATL)
Goals For 3.40 GF/PG (10th) 4.00 GF/PG (t-5th)
Goals Against 2.40 GA/PG (7th) 3.20 GA/PG (t-16th)
Power Play 22.2% (11th) 28.6% (t-4th)
Penalty Kill 91.3% (4th) 80.0% (t-17th)
CorsiFor% 49.77 CF% (16th) 50.89 CF% (13th)

THE RED WINGS

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA
Henrik Zetterberg
HENRIK ZETTERBERG
Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST
Tomas Tatar
TOMAS TATAR
Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN
Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER
Martin Frk
MARTIN FRK
Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN
Darren Helm
DARREN HELM
Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING
Riley Sheahan
RILEY SHEAHAN
Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL
Mike Green
MIKE GREEN
Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON
Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY
Xavier Ouellet
XAVIER OUELLET
Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

UPDATE: The Red Wings will go with the same top-6 that finished the Vegas game. Mantha will play with Zetterberg and Nyquist. Tatar with Larkin and Abdelkader. Luke Witkowski will also draw into the lineup against his former team. 


The Red Wings will likely ice the same lineup as they did in Vegas, unless Danny DeKeyser is ready to return—which I don’t believe is the case. Head coach Jeff Blashill said everyone that was available on Friday is available tonight.

Against Vegas I’m pretty sure we took advantage of a goalie who remained in the game with a concussion, but hey, I put that on Vegas’ medical staff. It was another strong outing for the duo of Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin, even if they’re towing Justin Abdelkader around the ice. It remains to be seen if that line will be back together tonight or if Mantha, who spent time with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist, will be on the top-line. Mantha posted a game-best 65.79 CF% and recorded one goal and two assists, tying him with Zetterberg for second on the team in points with seven (3G / 4A). Mike Green currently paces the team in that category, picking up eight helpers through five games.

The one big takeaway from the Vegas game was that we finally had more than the Mantha-Larkin line going. The top-line with the Zetterberg-Nyquist duo showed up; the two combined for three goals and four assists in the win. Zetterberg looked as good as he has to this point this season and will need to continue that kind of play if Detroit is going to have continued success this season.

THE LIGHTNING

Tampa Bay Lightning lines via DailyFaceoff

LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
Vladislav Namestnikov
VLADISLAV NAMESTNIKOV
Steven Stamkos
STEVEN STAMKOS
Nikita Kucherov
NIKITA KUCHEROV
Ondrej Palat
ONDREJ PALAT
Brayden Point
BRAYDEN POINT
Yanni Gourde
YANNI GOURDE
Alex Killorn
ALEX KILLORN
Tyler Johnson
TYLER JOHNSON
Slater Koekkoek
SLATER KOEKKOEK
Chris Kunitz
CHRIS KUNITZ
Cedric Paquette
CEDRIC PAQUETTE
Ryan Callahan
RYAN CALLAHAN
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Victor Hedman
VICTOR HEDMAN
Jake Dotchin
JAKE DOTCHIN
Mikhail Sergachev
MIKHAIL SERGACHEV
Anton Stralman
ANTON STRALMAN
Braydon Coburn
BRAYDON COBURN
Dan Girardi
DAN GIRARDI

UPDATE: The Lightning could go with 11 forwards and seven defenseman again, something Jon Cooper likes to do. Brayden Point missed the Lightning’s morning skate and is listed as a game-time decision because of an illness. 


In the first meeting between the Red Wings and Lightning in Detroit last season was a costly one for Tampa Bay. Captain Steven Stamkos suffered a lateral meniscus tear in the first period at Joe Louis Arena and went on to miss the remainder of the season. At the time of the injury, Stamkos was tied for the NHL-lead in points with 20 (9G / 11A) in 17 games and has gotten off to another great start this season. Stamkos has picked up just one goal through five games, but has added six helpers. Expect that goal-total to improve though. So far the 27-year-old has averaged 4.2 shots per game and is currently shooting a career-low 4.8 percent.

With Stamkos out last season, Nikita Kucherov stepped up in a big way, recording 40 goals and 45 assists (85 points) in 74 contests. Nothing has changed yet this season. The Russian sniper has one goal in every game and has added three assists to give him eight points (5G / 3A) in five games so far.

The third member of the Lightning’s Big-3 is defenseman Victor Hedman. The Swedish defenseman has one goal and one assist to this point, but will likely matchup against the Red Wings’ top-line tonight and virtually take them out of the contest at 5v5.

This game is going to come down to the Red Wings containing the Vladislav Namestnikov-Stamkos-Kucherov line. Through five games, this trio has a ridiculous 61.48 CF% and a 15.16 relative Corsi. They’ve been dominating the opposition and they will likely go head-to-head with the Zetterberg line, because that’s typically the matchup Blashill likes to go with vs. Tampa Bay.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

The expectation is that we will see Jimmy Howard and Andrei Vasilevskiy do battle in net tonight.

For Howard, he started just one of the Red Wings’ three games last week, but could start all four this week if he plays well. Crazy enough, the Red Wings don’t have a back-to-back until November 24-25th so the Red Wings could roll with Howard as a workhorse No.1 for the foreseeable future. Based on last week that won’t be the case. It seems like Blashill want to keep Howard fresh, which might be a decent idea given his injury history. However, if he continues to outplay Petr Mrazek, you have to give Howie the rock. So far he is 3-0-0 and ranks second in the NHL in SV% (.955) and tied for fifth in GAA (1.62). Dating back to last season, Howard has a 1.21 GAA, .964 SV% and one shutout in seven October appearances.

Vasilevskiy has been great for the Lightning, the same way Howard has been great for Detroit, but his stats don’t really speak to how good he’s been. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said that Vasilevskiy has probably been their best player so far, and that’s saying a lot since Kucherov has a goal in every game. Vasilevskiy has won three in a row and four of five with a 3.20 GAA and .911 SV%. The Red Wings are happy to see Ben Bishop in Dallas now, but Vasilevskiy has been just as good vs. Detroit. In three career starts he is 3-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA and .943 SV% against the Red Wings.

HOW TO WATCH

This is the only game in the NHL tonight, so it will be broadcast on SportsNet1 in Canada and of course Ken and Mickey will have the call on FoxSportsDetroit. Puck-drop is at 7:30pm at Little Caesars Arena and you can catch it on 97.1 TheTicket if you are unable to watch it!

Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter; we’ll have live tweets, GIFS, and all the fun stuff that a topical social media platform has.