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WGD: GAME 32: RED WINGS VS. MAPLE LEAFS

On Wednesday the Red Wings carried a 2-1 lead deep into the third period until David Pastrnak scored with 1:26 left in regulation. Detroit went on to lose 3-2 in overtime, their second straight OT loss and their 10th loss in 11 games.

The Red Wings have been in free fall mode recently, picking up just 11 of a possible 26 points over the last month—third worst in the NHL ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators.

The Maple Leafs have had their struggles recently as well but they’ve been able to pull out two points more often than not. Their struggles can be attributed to the fact that Auston Matthews (upper-body) has been sidelined for the last four games—a stretch in which they’ve averaged just 2.25 goals for per game but have gone 3-1-0.

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The Red Wings are hoping for a much better result than in their first meeting with Toronto so let’s see how these two squads match-up.

RECORD 11-13-7 (5th in ATL) 20-12-1 (2nd in ATL)
GOALS FOR 2.61 GF/PG (28th) 3.21 GF/PG (7th)
GOALS AGAINST 3.25 GA/PG (t-25th) 2.81 GA/PG (12th)
POWER PLAY 20.40% (9th) 21.27% (6th)
PENALTY KILL 82.40% (11th) 82.17% (13th)
CORSIFOR% 49.59 CF% (15th) 49.57 CF% (16th)

THE RED WINGS

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

For some reason head coach Jeff Blashill has switched his forwards lines up after wins in the past but seems content rolling with the current lineup despite dropping 10 of 11. It seems rather baffling why he wouldn’t try some different configurations with his job on the line but here we are.

Luke Witkowski is expected to remain in the lineup for the third straight game. Witkowski has played just 9:46 combined in the last two games and has only seen a total of 62:30 in 10 games this season—what is the point, honestly?

On top of that, Andreas Athanasiou continues to be vastly under-utilized. After seeing a bump in minutes from last year early-on, Athanasiou has seen his minutes drop considerably as of late and is now goalless in his last 10 games.

THE MAPLE LEAFS

Toronto Maple Leafs lines via DailyFaceoff

With Matthews out the Maple Leafs have struggled to score consistently, which should be seen as a surprise as Matthews ranks first in the NHL in high-danger scoring chances/60.

The big problem for the Maple Leafs this season has been the decline in play from both William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Much like Dylan Larkin last season, it seems like those two have fallen victim to the dreaded sophomore slump. After tallying 22 goals and 39 assists (61 points) last year, Nylander is on-pace for just 12 goals but 40 assists this year. As for Marner he is on-pace for just five goals and 50 points, one season after putting up 19 goals and 42 assists (61 points). Still, the Red Wings will need to contain these two dangerous young offensive threats—if they can the Red Wings could get out of their slump.

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BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Curtis McElhinney.

The Red Wings are apparently exploring trading Petr Mrazek but it doesn’t appear like they have any interest in showcasing him as they go back to Howard tonight. Howard has dominated the starts all season and tonight he will start for the 25th time while Mrazek has only been called upon seven times. After a disastrous outing vs. the Blues, Howard has allowed just five goals on 61 shots (.918 SV%) in the two overtime losses. He will look to improve on his first start vs. the Maple Leafs—he was pulled after allowing three goals on four shots in the loss.

McElhinney started the first game between these two teams as well, stopping 30 of 33 shots in the win. The veteran backup is coming off off his best performance of the season, a 41-save shutout over the Oilers last Sunday.

HOW TO WATCH

Puck-drop between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs is at 7:30 p.m. ET at Little Caesars Arena and can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit (United States) or TSN4 (Canada).

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