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Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #18: Three things to watch for against Boston

To say frustration has begun to boil over for the Red Wings would be an understatement. This team has now lost 12 of their last 13 games and currently sit dead-last in the league with a horrendous 4-12-1 record. The Red Wings have also allowed five goals or more in three of their previous four games as well.

The lack of success is exactly why general manager Steve Yzerman completed yet another trade, this time sending Jacob de la Rose to St. Louis in exchange for winger Robby Fabbri. With the inconsistent offensive production behind the Red Wings’ top-line, Yzerman is hoping that Fabbri is able to rekindle the success he had during the first two seasons of his career, where the 23-year-old recorded a combined 66 points.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Patrik Nemeth
PATRIK NEMETH
Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK
Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI
Dylan McIlrath
DYLAN MCILRATH
Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY
Mike Green
MIKE GREEN

Newly acquired forward Fabbri is expected to make his Red Wings’ debut tonight against Boston. Fabbri, who ironically hasn’t played in a game since his former team defeated the Red Wings on Oct. 27, will slide onto the second line alongside Valtteri Filppula and Andreas Athanasiou.

With the departure of center de la Rose, coach Jeff Blashill has decided to make Christoffer Ehn his new fourth-line center. Since Ehn has generated a respectable 57% FOW percentage so far this season, the 23-year-old should fit right into his new position.

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Boston Bruins

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Zdeno Chara
ZDENO CHARA
Connor Clifton
CONNOR CLIFTON
Torey Krug
TOREY KRUG
Brandon Carlo
BRANDON CARLO
Matt Grzelcyk
MATT GRZELCYK
Charlie McAvoy
CHARLIE MCAVOY

Luckily for the Red Wings, the Bruins will be without one of their best young forwards during tonight’s game. Forward Jake DeBrusk, who has produced six points through 15 games, will be sitting out this game with an undisclosed lower-body injury. In DeBrusk’s absence, forward Peter Cehlarik will draw into the lineup for just the third time this season.

However, even without DeBrusk, Boston still owns one of the most explosive offenses in the entire league. So, the Red Wings will need to play one of their best games of the season to come away with the victory against the Bruins.

Three Thoughts

1.) Special Teams Woes

During the Red Wings 5-1 defeat against the Rangers, Detroit struggled mightily with both their power play and penalty-killing units. The Red Wings surrendered a pair of goals in three chances while on the penalty kill, and they also failed to score on either of their opportunities with the man advantage against the Rangers.

Overall, the Red Wings currently own the fifth-worst success rate on the power play (12.7%) and a league-worst 66.7% rate with their penalty-killing unit. Coming into tonight, the Bruins own a league-leading 31.4% rate on the power play. Their squad has also produced the fifth-best success rate (86.7%) in the league while on the penalty kill as well. So, this will likely be yet another tough game for the Red Wings’ special team units.

2.) Top-Line’s Scoring Drought

One of the biggest reasons why the Red Wings have scored just a pair of goals over their last three games is because of the struggles their first line has gone through over that span. Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi have been held goal-less for three straight games, having combined for just a single assist over that time as well.

Entering tonight’s game, the Red Wings have allowed the most goals per game (4.00) in the entire league. Since the Bruins own one of the best offenses in the league, the Red Wings’ best chance to win this game will be to attempt to overpower Boston’s high surging offense. Although, that’ll certainly be a very tough assignment for the Red Wings.

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3.) Goals, Goals and More Goals From the Bruins 

So far this season, the Bruins have been one of the highest-scoring teams throughout the entire league. Currently, the Bruins have averaged to score 3.73 goals/game, which sits third-best in the league. The majority of those goals have also come during the first 20 minutes of action. Through 15 games this season, Boston has tallied 20 goals in the first period, which is the second-most in the league.

The Bruins’ offense has also been led by the offensive production of their first line this season. As their top-line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak have combined to score 74 of Boston’s 145 points this season, or if you’re a fan of percentages, that converts to 51% of the Bruins’ total points.