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WGD: Game 26: Red Wings @ Bruins

The real test of this Detroit Red Wings team starts now. Through the first week of December, they are playing the Bruins, the Avalanche, the Lightning, and the Maple Leafs. They have been playing .500 hockey up to this point and are three points out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. If they can at least escape this week with four of a possible eight points, they will have set themselves up pretty nicely for the rest of 2018.

Tonight, it starts with the pesky Bruins, who the Red Wings have faced twice already this season. In the first, they suffered an 8-1 blowout at the hands of David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk. In the second, the Wings came from behind twice before the heroics of Andreas Athanasiou won it in overtime. While it won’t be the last time they face each other this season, tonight’s game is perhaps the most important between the two for the Red Wings.

THE RED WINGS

Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

These are the lines that Jeff Blashill ran at practice yesterday. They aren’t that different from the lines of last week, but Christoffer Ehn is in the lineup in favour of Martin Frk. I’m not quite sure I understand this move because Ehn is a natural center and has been good at that position all year. I wonder if it’s a morale thing and he just wants to get the young player into the lineup for some playing time.

On the back end, Trevor Daley is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He’ll be out tonight and tomorrow against Colorado. I don’t want to call an injury “lucky”, but with 7 healthy defensemen, Blashill is in a bit of a pickle about who to play and who to sit. I still think Holland has to be working on moving somebody here. As for the lines, I don’t love that Dennis Cholowski is with Jonathan Ericsson. I actually liked him with Kronwall as the vet brought some stability to the pairing and allowed Cholowski to be a little reckless. Alas, we have what we have and all of possible pairings are going to have a tough go with Boston’s offensive power.

THE BRUINS

Boston Bruins lines via DailyFaceoff

The Bruins have been decimated with injuries this year. With Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup, someone named Colby Cave slots into the top line center position. He has zero points through four games, but it hasn’t slowed down David Pastrnak who has four points in those four games.

Their blue line is but a shadow of what it should be with Zdeno Chara, Kevin Millar, and, perhaps most importantly, Charlie McAvoy sidelined with various injuries. While this is terrible for the Bruins, it’s a good opportunity for Detroit to take advantage and use their speed to score some goals. They just need to get some shots on net.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Tuukka Rask

Since this is the first game of a back-to-back, I would expect Jimmy Howard to get the start tonight and Jonathan Bernier to go tomorrow against his former team. Howard has been amazing for the Wings this year, carrying them back from the depths of their 0-5-2 start to .500 hockey. His play has been so good that it’s prompted trade rumours from teams like the St. Louis Blues and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the other end of the ice, the Wings are shooting on one of the more polarizing goalies in the league. Tuukka Rask is either really hot or really cold and his last five starts a reflection of that. He’s posted save percentages that range between .786 and .973. Which Tuukka Rask will Detroit see tonight?

HOW TO WATCH

Tonight’s game will be broadcast on both teams’ local networks. So tune into Fox Sports Detroit or NESN for the 7:00 P.M. puck drop.

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