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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #4: Three things to watch for against Montreal

Undefeated no more, the Red Wings are seeking to get back into the win column following their 3-1 defeat against the Anaheim Ducks back on Tuesday.

For the Montreal Canadiens, their team comes into this game on the second night of a back-to-back. After losing 5-4 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabers on Wednesday night, the Canadiens will also be looking for better fortunes tonight in Little Caesars Arena. Through three games this season, every one of the Canadiens’ games has gone beyond regulation.

If that streak continues against the Red Wings, Jeff Blashill and his squad will need to avoid entering a shootout with the Canadiens, as it will be extremely tough for his team to beat Carey Price one-on-one.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Dan DeKeyser
DAN DEKEYSER
Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK
Patrik Nemeth
PATRIK NEMETH
Mike Green
MIKE GREEN
Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI
Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY

After being held to just a single goal by John Gibson and the Ducks last game, the Red Wings will need to receive production from more than just defenseman Filip Hronek against the Canadiens. With this being Andreas Athanasiou’s second game of the season, the 25-year-old center should be able to contribute even more than he did against the Ducks.

The bottom half of this Red Wings’ lineup was also able to create a handful of scoring chances during their previous game as well, which is something that has already become a major concern for this team. The top-line of Bertuzzi, Larkin and Mantha is arguably one of the best lines in the entire league, but the Red Wings will need production from their other lines as well in order to defeat the Canadiens.

Montreal Canadiens

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Victor Mete
VICTOR METE
Shea Weber
SHEA WEBER
Ben Chiarot
BEN CHIAROT
Jeff Petry
JEFF PETRY
Mike Reilly
MIKE REILLY
Christian Folin
CHRISTIAN FOLIN

What we’ve learned from the Canadiens through the first three games of the season is that they’re one of the deepest teams in the league. Three of their top four points leaders don’t even play on the Canadiens’ first line, that’s certainly an issue the Red Wings would also love to have.

Although, aside from Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, the Canadiens are lacking a ton of skill on their blue line.

Three Thoughts

1.) Continued Reliance In Net

So far this season, it’s become blatantly clear that the Red Wings are going to be relying heavily on both goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier to win games for their team this season. In the two games he’s played in, Howard has stopped 65 of the 71 shots he’s faced. If you’re counting at home, that’s an average shot total of 35.5 shots/game against Howard.

If not for the 22 shot affair from Bernier against the Dallas Stars, the Red Wings would currently rank in the top-five in the east for shots allowed per game. Luckily for the Red Wings, the Canadiens enter this game having surrendered the most shots per game in the entire league. Through their three games this season, the Canadiens have allowed 39.7 shots/game. That means the Red Wings shouldn’t have any issues in creating scoring chances for themselves against the Canadiens.

2.) Faceoff Struggles 

The top half of the Red Wings’ roster has performed effectively in the faceoff circle so far this season. However, the bottom half has really struggled through the first three games of the season. Overall, the Red Wings currently own the worst FOW% in the entire Eastern Conference. Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening have both excelled with a 50% FOW percentage to start the season.

However, third-line center Valtteri Filppula and fourth-line center Jacob de La Rose have really faltered in the faceoff dot this season. Filppula currently owns a 35.3% FOW percentage and de La Rose has posted a team-worst 33.3% FOW percentage as well. Although, the Canadiens haven’t been much better in the circle than the Red Wings, as their team owns a 9th-best 49.2% FOW percentage in the east. So, the Red Wings’ first two lines should have a fairly easy night at winning faceoffs this game.

3.) Carey Price

Similar to Howard, the Canadiens have once again been relying too much on their All-Star goalie to win games for their team. Price has already faced an insane total of 80 shots through two starts this season. In relation to the extremely high amounts of shots, Price currently owns a 3.69 GAA which ranks 5th-worst in the east.

The Canadiens’ 2019-20 playoff hopes are riding on Price’s ability to carry his team just as he’s done since the 2014-15 season. In order for Price to accomplish that feat, he’ll need his teammates in front of him to limit the number of shots he faces each game. For the Red Wings, they’ll likely have a very tough night scoring many goals if they’re unable to create a ton of work for Price in this game. If the Red Wings can produce 30-plus shots on net against Price, then their chances of coming away with a victory will increase significantly.