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WGD: GAME 10: RED WINGS @ SABRES

At the start of last week, I wrote that the Red Wings were coming off of a strong start, but a tough week ahead will really gauge where they are as a team. Now, a week later the Red Wings, who started that week at 4-1-0, now sit at 4-4-1 after losing all four games.

It is hard to get a true sense of who the Red Wings are through nine games because they have been a completely mixed bag so far. Last Monday they played an extremely competitive game vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, only to fall short. They did the same thing vs. the Washington Capitals on Friday and then showed up with an absolute stinker on Sunday vs. a bad Canucks team. So who are the Red Wings? Well, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. A decent team, capable of playing with the big boys, but not as bad as they looked versus a lowly team two days ago.

This team will also improve once they get speed demon Andreas Athanasiou back in the lineup, but that likely won’t happen until next week as he continues to work out Visa issues.

Things won’t get any easier for Detroit this week as they kickoff a three-game road-trip tonight in Buffalo before heading to the State of Florida where they will have a rematch with the Lightning on Thursday and a date with the Panthers on Saturday. The Sabres have been routed for the majority of the 2017-18 season, so Detroit should be expected to take 5-4-1 record to Florida with them, but let’s take a look at how these two teams stack up:

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Record 4-4-1 (4th in ATL) 2-5-2 (7th in ATL)
Goals For 2.89 GF/PG (17th) 2.78 GF/PG (23rd)
Goals Against 3.22 GA/PG (20th) 3.89 GA/PG (28th)
Power Play 15.2% (23rd) 15.6% (22nd)
Penalty Kill 83.8% (9th) 81.8% (15th)
CorsiFor% 50.99 CF% (11th) 48.01 CF% (22nd)

THE RED WINGS

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST
Henrik Zetterberg
HENRIK ZETTERBERG
Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA
Tomas Tatar
TOMAS TATAR
Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN
Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER
Martin Frk
MARTIN FRK
Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN
Darren Helm
DARREN HELM
Scott Wilson
SCOTT WILSON
Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING
David Booth
DAVID BOOTH
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON
Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY
Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL
Mike Green
MIKE GREEN
Xavier Ouellet
XAVIER OUELLET
Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

On Sunday night, Mike Green picked up his 10th assist of the seasonm joining Nicklas Lidstrom as the only Red Wings defenseman to start a season with 10 assists in his first nine games played.

While it was a terrible performance from the Red Wings vs. Vancouver, we saw Anthony Mantha pop another beauty, giving him four goals and four assists (eight points) in nine games. Mantha has had a fantastic start to the season and is currently on-pace for 228 shots—which would have been in the top-35 in the NHL a season ago. That kind of shot volume, makes the 23-year-old a real candidate for 30 goals this season.

Danny DeKeyser was back on the ice this morning, but still is not ready to return to the Red Wings lineup, leaving Jonathan Ericsson as a top-pairing defenseman who is logging close to 20 minutes per night—never a good thing.

Breaking up the young trio of Mantha-Dylan LarkinMartin Frk seemed like a big mistake at the time, and maybe it still is. However, the Mantha-Henrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist has played well together. The trio carries a 54.12 CF% and have scored four goals while giving up just one in 47:40 TOI at 5v5. Moving Frk to a line with Frans Nielsen and Darren Helm has improved that line quite a bit, but not Justin Abdelkader is doing his best anchor impression with Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar.

THE SABRES

Buffalo Sabres lines via DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Evander Kane
EVANDER KANE
Jack Eichel
JACK EICHEL
Kyle Okposo
KYLE OKPOSO
Sam Reinhart
SAM REINHART
Ryan O'Reilly
RYAN O’REILLY
Jason Pominville
JASON POMINVILLE
Matt Moulson
MATT MOULSON
Johan Larsson
JOHAN LARSSON
Seth Griffith
SETH GRIFFITH
Jordan Nolan
JORDAN NOLAN
Benoit Pouliot
BENOIT POULIOT
Justin Bailey
JUSTIN BAILEY
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Marco Scandella
MARCO SCANDELLA
Rasmus Ristolainen
RASMUS RISTOLAINEN
Jake McCabe
JAKE MCCABE
Taylor Fedun
TAYLOR FEDUN
Viktor Antipin
VIKTOR ANTIPIN
Matt Tennyson
MATT TENNYSON

The Sabres have a solid top-6, but not a ton of depth. Veteran Jason Pominville appears to be rejuvenated back with his old team, picking up 11 points (5G / 6A) in his first nine games of the season—that ties him with Evander Kane (6G / 5A) and Jack Eichel (4G / 7A) for the team-lead.

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They’ll be without at least four members of their regular lineup with Zemgus Girgensons, Jacob Josefson, Nathan Beaulieu and Josh Gorges all out with injuries.

Where this game will likely be won and lost tonight is the battle between Detroit’s top-line (Nyquist-Zetterberg-Mantha) and Buffalo’s second line (Sam ReinhartRyan O’Reilly-Pominville). Mantha has been an excellent possession driver all season, but the Sabres lean on the O’Reilly to shutdown the opposition, so this will be that matchup to keep an eye on tonight.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Robin Lehner. 

Howard gets back between the pipes after giving up four goals on 37 shots in Sunday’s loss. After starting the season 3-0-0 with a 1.62 GAA and .955 SV%, Howard has gone 0-3-0 with a 4.45 GAA and .851 SV%—however those numbers are slightly muddied by a disastrous outing in Toronto. Howie will be given a shot to get back track and he has a great matchup to do so. The veteran is an impressive 8-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .942 SV% in his career vs. the Sabres.

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As for Lehner, he is coming off of his first win of the season and has an ugly 3.29 GAA and .894 SV% in six appearances. Lehner has not had a lot of success against the Red Wings, going 3-3-1 with a 3.16 GAA and .908 SV% in eight career starts.

HOW TO WATCH

The Red Wings and Sabres will go to battle on NBCSN; puck-drop is at 7:30p.m. ET. 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.

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  • Tony D.

    yeah last week was rough, but we arent rly supposed to beat those teams. we are supposed to beat these bums tho. better get a W tn. can for sure beat florida too, reimer and niemi… come on.

    • Nick Seguin

      They played well against Tampa, Toronto, and even Washington to an extent. The game against Vancouver was embarrassing though. Need to be better than that.