WGD: GAME 4: Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs

The first game of this season that the Wings are playing a team within the division, they’re coming in hot with some solid play against two Californian teams, but the Leafs are coming in hotter.

The Red Wings are facing a team that is averaging five goals per game, while they’re stuck at just two goals per game. The only thing going for them is that this Leafs team is also averaging 4.25 goals against per game. That is the only slight hope that this Leafs blueline will have a tough time against the speed of some of the Wings forwards.

If the Wings keep on their theme of taking a ton of penalties this season, then they are in for some big-time hurt. The Leafs have five powerplay goals in just ten opportunities in their four games this season. They haven’t faced a team that takes a ton of penalties like the Wings – this can get ugly.

The good news is that the Wings have only had one powerplay goal scored against them in twelve opportunities for the opposition. Only the Ducks and the Avalanche have better or the same success rates for teams that have taken more than ten penalties. The Leafs have Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner though, so that percentage will probably drop.

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The Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

The Wings mixed up the forward lines a bit with Nyquist dropping down to Athanasiou’s line and Abdelkader getting promoted to be alongside Larkin and Mantha. This might be just to get Athanasiou’s offense going and have two shooters on his wings to pass the puck too, but Nyquist on the first line has been outstanding.

As Nick Seguin put in his recent article, this might not be a bad thing.

A Look At Blashill’s Most Used Forward Lines Through the First 3 Games

Summing it up, Abdelkader has been great and anchoring lines and making everyone else worse around him. Perhaps Larkin and Mantha can withstand that anchor and not have it affect their play as much as it did for Athanasiou and Vanek. Nyquist will surely be a better option for Athanasiou and Vanek for the upcoming games.

On the blueline, it was announced that Cholowski is out with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Coming in his place to make his season debut is Niklas Kronwall – the Wings legend and current veteran will look for more opportunities to make their powerplay a little bit deadlier.

Filip Hronek getting more minutes against this Leafs team might be a tough matchup defensively for him, but he can certainly create some offense going the other way.

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The Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines via DailyFaceoff

Patrick Marleau
Auston Matthews
Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Hyman
John Tavares
Mitch Marner
Par Lindholm
Nazem Kadri
Connor Brown
Josh Leivo
Frederik Gauthier
Tyler Ennis
Morgan Rielly
Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott
Igor Ozhiganov

There’s nothing really to overstate about this forward group. They’re missing their third or fourth-best forward and still are scoring at an insane rate. They are deadly and deep. Tavares, Matthews, Marner, and Kadri are able to make plays completely by themselves and having excellent secondary pieces like Kasperi Kapanen and future Hall-of-Famer Patrick Marleau is a pretty nice luxury to have.

On the very controversial blueline, Ron Hainsey sticks out like a sore thumb. Hopefully, the Wings’ left-wingers will be able to take advantage and skate by him with ease. Their right side might need an overhaul, but that is one of the strongest left sides on defence in the league. Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner have established themselves as guaranteed top-4 defencemen every night of the week and Travis Dermott will surely get there with his speed and agility with the puck.

Between the Pipes

Jimmy Howard vs. Frederik Andersen

Jimmy has played pretty damn well in his first two starts of the season. Sporting a solid .924 sv% is a nice way to solidify your starter job with a fresh face as your backup. Howard has provided the Wings with a chance to win both of those games – his record doesn’t look so good but everything is not his fault. He hopefully will continue his strong play against this strong Leafs team. At least ending the game with some dignity.

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Andersen has historically been extremely lackluster to start the season. His Octobers are never good and he struggles to really get into a rhythm early on. This game might make him look a little bit better than what his stats say after his first three starts; raising that .892 save percentage and 3.37 GAA.

How to Watch

This game will be on Fox Sports-Detroit for our American readers and on TSN4 for the Canadians. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. EST.

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