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WGD: Game 27: Red Wings vs. Avalanche

Fight Night at the Joe was over twenty years ago now, but I still circle the Avs and Wings games on my calendar as “must watch”. Once the best rivalry in hockey, these two teams now find themselves in separate conferences, playing each other twice a year. Joe Louis Arena is no longer the stage and there’s no more bad blood between them. The Avs are a playoff the team and the Wings are not. Their seasons couldn’t be more different, but seeing the jerseys come together at center ice still brings forth feelings of aggression and intensity.

I’m a sucker for nostalgia so games like this are perfect for me.

THE RED WINGS

Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

Because the Wings just played last night, they won’t get a morning skate today and we therefore won’t know of any line changes until the warm-ups. We aren’t aware of any injuries, though, and the Wings played great against the Bruins, so I wouldn’t expect any changes.

The big question is who Blashill is going to match-up against the Avs power line of Landeskog, MacKinnon, and Rantanen. Logic says it should be the Larkin line, but with the way Tyler Bertuzzi and Michael Rasmussen have been playing, I could see an argument for putting them on the MacKinnon line and crushing them with grit.

THE AVALANCHE

Avalanche lines via DailyFaceoff

The Avs are 8-0-2 in their last 10, have 35 points and are tied for first place in the Western Conference. This is all mostly due to the production from their top line, who have combined for 112 points so far. MacKinnon and Rantanen are #1 and #2 in the league. They don’t have that much depth in their bottom-6, but they don’t really need it with those two driving their production.

On the back-end, they are missing Tyson Barrie, but their D-corps doesn’t look too bad. I watched some of their game against Pittsburgh last week and Samuel Girard looked really good. Him and Erik Johnson are a great top-2 and with Zadorov and Cole rounding out their top-4, they are in good shape and could do some damage in the first couple of rounds of the playoffs.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jonathan Bernier vs Semyon Varlamov

Considering Howie played in the game last night, look to Jonathan Bernier to get the start tonight against his former team. Bernier has been shaky this year, but they need a big game from him as they have to hold off some tough offense. The Avalanche don’t take a lot of shots, averaging just over 30 per game played, but they have the highest shooting percentage in the league (12.3%). We need a big game from Bernier tonight.

I’ve always found Semyon Varlamov to be a streaky goalie who’s had a tough go with injuries, but he’s having a stellar year this season, posting a .927 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average. Luckily for Detroit, they’ve been scoring goals as of late, so hopefully they can figure out Varlamov tonight.

HOW TO WATCH

Puck drop is 7:00 P.M. ET tonight and the game will be broadcast on both teams’ local channels, Fox Sports Detroit and ALT.

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