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WGD: GAME 77: RED WINGS @ SABRES

Today is a huge game. The Red Wings play the Buffalo Sabres in our fifth-last game of the season.

The NHL released this year’s draft lottery odds, and the Sabres are currently the favourites with 18.5% chance of drafting Dahlin. Detroit, currently at 5th last, have an 8.5% chance.

The Wings won’t finish last in the league but have a legit shot at finishing 3rd or 4th last – the Canucks and Coyotes are both only 2 points behind us. With only 4 games remaining, it’s crucial we lose-out.

In other news, Buffalo has confirmed that their elite prospect, Casey Mittelstadt, will be playing tonight. If you want to watch someone exciting – watch him.

Here are your projected lineups for tonight’s game:

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings lines courtesy of DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Tyler Bertuzzi
TYLER BERTUZZI

Rating: 71.2#90 LW

Henrik Zetterberg
HENRIK ZETTERBERG

Rating: 74.0#40 C

Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST

Rating: 73.7#75 RW

Darren Helm
DARREN HELM

Rating: 70.7#163 LW

Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN

Rating: 75.0#59 C

Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA

Rating: 74.0#33 RW

Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU

Rating: 74.4#65 LW

Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN

Rating: 73.0#90 C

Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER

Rating: 70.3#108 RW

Martin Frk
MARTIN FRK

Rating: 71.4#63 LW

Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING

Rating: 69.5#192 C

Evgeny Svechnikov
EVGENY SVECHNIKOV

Rating: 72.4#67 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON

Rating: 69.9#226 LD

Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY

Rating: 72.1#135 RD

Dan DeKeyser
DAN DEKEYSER

Rating: 70.8#200 LD

Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

Rating: 71.1#186 RD

Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL

Rating: 71.5#168 LD

Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI

Rating: 67.9#114 RD

Jeff Blashill is keeping that top line of Bertuzzi, Zetterberg, and Nyquist together because the trio have been Detroit’s most productive players over the last few games. Bertuzzi, especially, has looked really good as of late and really carving his role into this roster.

Dylan Larkin continues to lead the team in points, though I’m not thrilled about him and Andreas Athanasiou being separated. I really thought they were building some solid chemistry together. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with Larkin continuing to build on-ice chemistry with Anthony Mantha, since together they will be a pair in the future.

Finally, Evgeny Svechnikov has earned his ice time as he’s been getting more and more of it every game. His possession numbers are good and he seems to have good chemistry with Martin Frk, as evidenced by his first NHL goal last week.

On defense, I can’t wait to see more of Little Joe Hicketts, who recorded his first NHL point in Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hicketts played a great game defensively and even got some time on the powerplay. Expect him to slide in on a pair with Kronwall again tonight.

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres lines courtesy of DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Zemgus Girgensons
ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS

Rating: 69.9#180 LW

Jack Eichel
JACK EICHEL

Rating: 78.4#28 C

Jason Pominville
JASON POMINVILLE

Rating: 73.5#40 RW

Evan Rodrigues
EVAN RODRIGUES

Rating: 70.9#74 LW

Casey Mittelstadt
CASEY MITTELSTADT
Sam Reinhart
SAM REINHART

Rating: 76.1#44 RW

Scott Wilson
SCOTT WILSON

Rating: 70.5#168 LW

Ryan O'Reilly
RYAN O’REILLY

Rating: 78.1#29 C

Kyle Okposo
KYLE OKPOSO

Rating: 71.2#66 RW

Jordan Nolan
JORDAN NOLAN

Rating: 68.2#216 LW

Johan Larsson
JOHAN LARSSON

Rating: 69.4#120 C

Nick Baptiste
NICK BAPTISTE

Rating: 71.9#58 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Brendan Guhle
BRENDAN GUHLE

Rating: 71.6#162 LD

Rasmus Ristolainen
RASMUS RISTOLAINEN

Rating: 75.4#47 RD

Marco Scandella
MARCO SCANDELLA

Rating: 72.3#125 LD

Casey Nelson
CASEY NELSON

Rating: 71.0#190 RD

Nathan Beaulieu
NATHAN BEAULIEU

Rating: 71.0#192 LD

Justin Falk
JUSTIN FALK

Rating: 68.5#250 RD

The Sabres have had a lackluster season, but they are hoping the addition of Casey Middlestadt breathes some energy into them. Middlestadt is the team’s best prospect and made himself a household name with his showing in the 2018 World Junior Championships. He’ll play on the second line with Sam Reinhart on his wing.

The top line is definitely the best Buffalo has to offer with Eichel at center, who missed a large chunk of time with an injury but had a great first game back against the Leafs on Tuesday, and Jason Pominville on his wing.

Rounding out the top-9 are Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, and former Red Wing Scott Wilson. While this lineup is definitely hurting without Evander Kane in it, I don’t understand why they have such a hard time winning.

*Looks at the defense*

Oh, that’s why.

Starting Goalies

Robin Lehner vs. Jimmy Howard

It’s not even a question that Howard is Detroit’s best goalie. Jared Coreau let in two soft goals in Tuesday’s game against Montreal that, had Howie been in net, the Wings would have won. Being the clear number one on this team right now, expect Howard to get every start from here on out.

As for Robin Lehner, well, he’s not much to write home about. With a .909 save percentage 2.99 goals against average on the season, Lehner is a big part of why the Sabres are where they are in the standings. Of course, he has to play behind that dismal defense which doesn’t help him in the slightest.

Where to Watch

If you’re so inclined to watch the tank battle on MLB’s Opening Day, FSD will be where it’s at!

You can also follow us along on Twitter!