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WGD: Game 82: Red Wings vs. Sabres

Well, here we are. The last game of the season. For the Red Wings, it wasn’t a terribly exciting year. Some of the young players took huge steps forward, but they never really came close to even sniffing the playoffs.

The Sabres, on the other hand, were in the mix until about the halfway mark of the season. And then their goalie fell back to Earth and the wear and tear caught up with them. It didn’t take long for them to fall back into the lottery division.

They’ve fared well against the Red Wings this season, winning two of the three games they’ve played. Detroit won the last meeting though. It was part of their latest six game winning streak.

While this game may seem unimportant, there is something on the line. These teams have identical records (32-39-10), which means they are tied in the standings. So the winner of this game will get 9.5% odds of winning the lottery for 1st overall pick on Tuesday and the loser’s odds will drop to 8.5%.

So… Go Sabres? I’m confused.

THE RED WINGS

LW C RW
Tyler Bertuzzi
TYLER BERTUZZI

Rating: 78.3#19 LW

Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN

Rating: 80.6#15 C

Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA

Rating: 78.9#15 RW

Taro Hirose
TARO HIROSE
Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU

Rating: 77.6#32 C

Darren Helm
DARREN HELM

Rating: 70.6#151 RW

Martin Frk
MARTIN FRK

Rating: 69.6#122 LW

Christoffer Ehn
CHRISTOFFER EHN

Rating: 69.4#176 C

Ryan Kuffner
RYAN KUFFNER
Matt Puempel
MATT PUEMPEL

Rating: 71.0#110 LW

Dominic Turgeon
DOMINIC TURGEON

Rating: 72.8#87 C

Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI

Rating: 67.8#131 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL

Rating: 71.9#85 LD

Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK

Rating: 72.9#59 RD

Joe Hicketts
JOE HICKETTS

Rating: 73.2#58 LD

Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY

Rating: 69.8#101 RD

Jake Chelios
JAKE CHELIOS

Rating: 73.3#53 LD

Dylan McIlrath
DYLAN MCILRATH

Rating: 72.4#66 RD

We saw in Pittsburgh what happens when this top line doesn’t produce: the team loses.

The bottom-6 right now is a mishmash of AHL and college players. I’m not sure what to make of it. Some of these players have looked pretty good down the stretch and some of them look like they should be in the AHL.

Their defense, in particular, is heavily inexperienced compared to what we’re used to seeing. I have to say, though, Jake Chelios has actually looked okay. And, of course, Joe Hicketts has looked great. He deserves to be playing consistently in the NHL.

THE SABRES

LW C RW
Victor Olofsson
VICTOR OLOFSSON
Jack Eichel
JACK EICHEL

Rating: 79.0#23 C

Sam Reinhart
SAM REINHART

Rating: 75.5#39 RW

Jeff Skinner
JEFF SKINNER

Rating: 78.5#17 LW

Evan Rodrigues
EVAN RODRIGUES

Rating: 72.7#67 C

Kyle Okposo
KYLE OKPOSO

Rating: 71.2#93 RW

Conor Sheary
CONOR SHEARY

Rating: 71.8#94 LW

Casey Mittelstadt
CASEY MITTELSTADT

Rating: 70.7#149 C

Scott Wilson
SCOTT WILSON

Rating: 70.1#164 RW

Zemgus Girgensons
ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS

Rating: 69.3#179 LW

Johan Larsson
JOHAN LARSSON

Rating: 68.9#187 C

Jason Pominville
JASON POMINVILLE

Rating: 72.4#72 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Rasmus Dahlin
RASMUS DAHLIN

Rating: 72.5#70 LD

Rasmus Ristolainen
RASMUS RISTOLAINEN

Rating: 73.7#43 RD

Jake McCabe
JAKE MCCABE

Rating: 70.8#108 LD

Brandon Montour
BRANDON MONTOUR

Rating: 74.4#33 RD

Lawrence Pilut
LAWRENCE PILUT

Rating: 71.6#91 LD

Casey Nelson
CASEY NELSON

Rating: 69.3#105 RD

This has been a disappointing season for the Sabres. After collecting the 1st overall pick last year, this team was supposed to be on the upswing. Jack Eichel took the next step, hitting the 80-point mark, and Jeff Skinner has 38 goals. They’ve led the offensive charge all season.

The team added Brandon Montour at the trade deadline, but it didn’t really help their blue line take that next step.

It’s not all bad, though. They’ve got two 1st round picks at the upcoming draft and, next season, their young guys will certainly take another step forward. It’s just further proof how long rebuilds can take. Lots of patience is required.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Linus Ullmark

It’s the last game of the season, so of course the start is going to go to Jimmy. He’s arguably been our best player all year.

The Sabres are starting Ullmark, who played against the Wings on March 28th as well. He allowed five goals on 35 shots in that game.

HOW TO WATCH

For the last time this season, you can watch with Ken & Mickey on Fox Sports Detroit. Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. ET.