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WGD: GAME 43: Red Wings vs. Predators

The Detroit Red Wings are on the verge of tying their longest losing streak of the season. Having dropped their last six games, a seventh loss tonight would be an unwelcome call back to the start of their season. That shaky start didn’t sink them, but this mid-season losing streak surely will.

Tonight, they host the Nashville Predators, who are currently second place in the Central Division and once again legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cups. The Preds have had an injury-laden season, but are slowly regaining their lost players and returning to full strength. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and 9-8-2 on the road.

The Red Wings, for their part, have had their own issues with injuries. Tonight, they are once again icing a healthy four lines at forward, but are lacking their top talent on the blue line. This was the reason for their early season losing streak, and it’s the reason for their current losing streak.

THE RED WINGS

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Tyler Bertuzzi
TYLER BERTUZZI

Rating: 72.5#68 LW

Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN

Rating: 78.2#31 C

Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST

Rating: 74.4#42 RW

Thomas Vanek
THOMAS VANEK

Rating: 72.0#75 LW

Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN

Rating: 73.2#77 C

Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA

Rating: 75.5#37 RW

Michael Rasmussen
MICHAEL RASMUSSEN

Rating: 71.3#138 LW

Jacob De La Rose
JACOB DE LA ROSE

Rating: 67.7#195 C

Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU

Rating: 74.3#56 RW

Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER

Rating: 70.2#111 LW

Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING

Rating: 69.0#182 C

Darren Helm
DARREN HELM

Rating: 70.8#149 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL

Rating: 71.6#79 LD

Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

Rating: 70.9#82 RD

Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON

Rating: 68.9#126 LD

Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK

Rating: 72.3#51 RD

Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI

Rating: 71.3#88 LD

Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI

Rating: 67.8#108 RD

Oh how the mighty have fallen as Justin Abdelkader finds himself on a fourth line with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening. Despite this being the “fourth line”, I would anticipate them getting some more ice time against Nashville’s top-6. These are our “shutdown” guys and the Preds have a lot of players that need to be shut down.

Despite Mantha’s return to the lineup, Jeff Blashill has decided not to reunite the top line that was prior to his hand injury. Instead, Mantha will play with Vanek and Nielsen while Larkin anchors a top line between Bertuzzi and Nyquist. I actually quite like this first line and think they could do some damage with Bertuzzi’s aggressive forecheck, Larkin’s speed, and Nyquist’s brains.

The third line is just random.

On the blue line, the best player right now is Nick Jensen and he’s the only one between 21 and 34 years old. That is a scary sentiment. Luke Witkowski will still get the nod over Brian Lashoff. At this point, the best course of action for these D-lines is to close your eyes and hope for the best.

THE PREDATORS

Nashville Predators lines via DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Ryan Hartman
RYAN HARTMAN

Rating: 72.2#71 LW

Ryan Johansen
RYAN JOHANSEN

Rating: 76.6#41 C

Viktor Arvidsson
VIKTOR ARVIDSSON

Rating: 78.9#16 RW

Kevin Fiala
KEVIN FIALA

Rating: 76.0#27 LW

Calle Jarnkrok
CALLE JARNKROK

Rating: 73.1#78 C

Craig Smith
CRAIG SMITH

Rating: 74.9#38 RW

Miikka Salomaki
MIIKKA SALOMAKI

Rating: 70.0#115 LW

Nick Bonino
NICK BONINO

Rating: 72.7#89 C

Austin Watson
AUSTIN WATSON

Rating: 71.9#78 RW

Phil Di Giuseppe
PHIL DI GIUSEPPE

Rating: 69.9#117 LW

Frederick Gaudreau
FREDERICK GAUDREAU

Rating: 70.7#150 C

Rocco Grimaldi
ROCCO GRIMALDI

Rating: 73.2#57 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Roman Josi
ROMAN JOSI

Rating: 81.9#1 LD

Ryan Ellis
RYAN ELLIS

Rating: 79.6#9 RD

Mattias Ekholm
MATTIAS EKHOLM

Rating: 77.9#7 LD

P.K. Subban
P.K. SUBBAN

Rating: 80.1#8 RD

Dan Hamhuis
DAN HAMHUIS

Rating: 72.2#67 LD

Anthony Bitetto
ANTHONY BITETTO

Rating: 68.7#105 RD

The Predators are still without Filip Forsberg and Kyle Turris, they got Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban back. Ryan Johansen leads the offensive charge with 35 points and Forsberg is still their leading goal scorer with 14 goals, despite missing about half of the games.

Down the middle, the Preds are quite deep with Jarnkrok, Bonino, and Gaudreau backing up Johansen and they get a ton of secondary scoring from their bottom-9 wingers. Their offense is set-up perfectly, with scoring distributed pretty evenly between their primary and secondary scorers.

Then there’s the defense, which is still one of the best blue lines in the league. They don’t score a lot of goals, but Roman Josi is on the cusp of 30 points, Matrtias Ekholk has 25 and Ryan Ellis is almost at 20. They make plays happen and defend at an elite level. It’s always fun to watch as a Detroit fan because compared to Nashville, our defense is bush league.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Pekka Rinne

Jimmy Howard may have cooled off as of late, but his overall play this season has been worthy of an All-Star nomination. The 34-year-old hasn’t logged a win since mid-December, but it hasn’t all been on him. The Red Wings average one of the worst shots-against stats in the league. Howie gets no help from his defense.

On the flip side, the 36-year-old Pekka Rinne gets a tonne of help from his defense and he’s rocking a .920 save percentage on the season. His 15 wins are top-10 in the league, but he’s 1-4-0 in his last five starts. This will be his first start of 2019.

HOW TO WATCH

Puck drop is at 7:30 P.M. ET and you’ll be able to watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or Fox Sports Tennesse.

As always, make sure you’re following us on Twitter for all kinds of fun in-game reactions, gifs, and all the other things you’d expect from a hockey blog twitter account.