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WGD: Game 55: Red Wings vs. Sabres

There’s a lot of hockey on today, with a total of 14 NHL games on throughout the course of the day. The Red Wings are part of this large slate of games, travelling to Buffalo to take on Jack Eichel and the Sabres.

After a strong start to the season, the Sabres have kind of tapered off. Currently four points out of a playoff spot, every point counts for them right now. Though unlikely, the playoffs are not out of the question. They just need to string together a couple of wins.

The Red Wings are going to do everything in their power to stop them.

THE RED WINGS

LW C RW
Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER

Rating: 70.1#116 LW

Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN

Rating: 79.4#25 C

Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST

Rating: 75.8#48 RW

Thomas Vanek
THOMAS VANEK

Rating: 73.9#44 LW

Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN

Rating: 73.0#89 C

Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA

Rating: 75.0#41 RW

Darren Helm
DARREN HELM

Rating: 71.1#146 LW

Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING

Rating: 71.2#144 C

Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU

Rating: 76.7#42 RW

Michael Rasmussen
MICHAEL RASMUSSEN

Rating: 71.6#127 LW

Jacob De La Rose
JACOB DE LA ROSE

Rating: 68.1#190 C

Christoffer Ehn
CHRISTOFFER EHN

Rating: 70.5#101 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL

Rating: 72.2#72 LD

Mike Green
MIKE GREEN

Rating: 75.0#29 RD

Dan DeKeyser
DAN DEKEYSER

Rating: 72.9#57 LD

Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

Rating: 72.5#51 RD

Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON

Rating: 69.6#119 LD

Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI

Rating: 71.9#12 RD

Dylan Larkin made his return to the lineup on Thursday night and put up two points, further proving how crucial he is to this team’s success. With Bertuzzi still out with an upper-body injury, Justin Abdelkader holds down the spot on the top line.

While I don’t really mind Abdelkader playing on the top line, I really don’t like seeing Andreas Athanasiou relegated to third line. Darren Helm may be able to keep up with him from a speed perspective, but Luke Glendening certainly can’t and neither of them have the all around skill to complement what AA brings to the table.

On the back end, Niklas Kronwall and Mike Green bring a combined 29 years of NHL experience to the top line, while Dennis Cholowski continues to play his sheltered minutes on the bottom-pair. The middle pair of Danny DeKeyser and Nick Jensen is the best one that the Wings have right now. They’re no Dahlin-Bogosian, but they’re all we have right now.

THE SABRES

LW C RW
Jeff Skinner
JEFF SKINNER

Rating: 80.2#9 LW

Jack Eichel
JACK EICHEL

Rating: 80.8#17 C

Jason Pominville
JASON POMINVILLE

Rating: 73.1#60 RW

Conor Sheary
CONOR SHEARY

Rating: 73.4#50 LW

Casey Mittelstadt
CASEY MITTELSTADT

Rating: 71.6#126 C

Sam Reinhart
SAM REINHART

Rating: 76.8#27 RW

Zemgus Girgensons
ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS

Rating: 69.9#173 LW

Johan Larsson
JOHAN LARSSON

Rating: 68.9#127 C

Kyle Okposo
KYLE OKPOSO

Rating: 71.3#84 RW

Vladimir Sobotka
VLADIMIR SOBOTKA

Rating: 68.7#186 LW

Evan Rodrigues
EVAN RODRIGUES

Rating: 73.1#87 C

Tage Thompson
TAGE THOMPSON

Rating: 70.1#167 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Rasmus Dahlin
RASMUS DAHLIN

Rating: 74.1#35 LD

Zach Bogosian
ZACH BOGOSIAN

Rating: 71.4#78 RD

Marco Scandella
MARCO SCANDELLA

Rating: 71.6#82 LD

Rasmus Ristolainen
RASMUS RISTOLAINEN

Rating: 76.1#26 RD

Jake McCabe
JAKE MCCABE

Rating: 72.3#70 LD

Lawrence Pilut
LAWRENCE PILUT

Rating: 72.6#47 RD

This Sabres team isn’t that far off. Jack Eichel is having a great year and leading the team in points. Jeff Skinner is doing himself a favour by having a career year. He’s on pace to score more than 50 goals for the first time in his career.

The most exciting part of this lineup, to me, is Rasmus Dahlin. The first overall pick in last year’s draft has been having a fantastic rookie season with 6 goals and 29 points so far. It’s too bad he’s being overshadowed by Elias Pettersson because otherwise he’d be a top Calder candidate.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Carter Hutton

Due to the early start time of this game, neither team has confirmed their starting goalie yet, but these are the two most likely options.

There’s not much else I can write about Jimmy Howard that I haven’t written before. He’s been a rock for the Wings this year and his solid play continues to drive up his value on the trade market. Will the Wings pull the trigger on him? I really doubt it, but he’s worth a lot at this point.

As for Carter Hutton, he’s put together a nice little season for himself, going 15-15-3 and putting up a .909 save percentage. It’s not the best of his career, but it’s mostly due to the second half of the season. In H1, he was playing great. I know because he’s on my fantasy hockey team. So I’ve experienced the ups and downs in my goalie categories.

HOW TO WATCH

It’s an early start with a 1:00 P.M. puck drop. You’ll be able to watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or MSG-B if you’re tuning in from Buffalo.