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Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #23: Three things to watch for against Ottawa

Following their three-game road trip, the Red Wings are set to take on the Ottawa Senators at Little Caesars Arena before heading back out on the road again. Despite losing two of their three games on this past road trip, Detroit certainly performed well enough to nearly win all three games.

Since both of those losses came after regulation had ended, the Red Wings came away with points in each of the three California games. With a win tonight, the Red Wings would also no longer sit last in the entire league. While this game doesn’t stand out on paper, it would surely be a huge confidence booster for the Red Wings to finally scratch their way out of 31st in the league.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI
Mike Green
MIKE GREEN
Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON
Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY
Alex Biega
ALEX BIEGA
Dylan McIlrath
DYLAN MCILRATH

Depending on how defenseman Filip Hronek is feeling after Detroit’s morning skate, the 22-year-old may make his return tonight. Hronek’s presence would be significant for the Red Wings. They’ve been without their top defenseman for the past two games and he would surely provide Detroit with a huge boost if available for tonight’s game.

If Hronek were to return against Ottawa, then fellow defenseman Jonathan Ericsson would likely draw out of the Red Wings’ lineup. The 35-year-old has played in each of Detroit’s last two games and has produced just a pair of shots on net while logging an average of 18:41 minutes per game.

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Ottawa Senators 

Not to state the obvious, but the Red Wings would kill to have a defenseman like Thomas Chabot on their team. Chabot is currently tied for fourth on the Senators in points (11) and he leads his team in ATOI with 25:34 minutes/game this season.

The Red Wings will also have to attempt to contain forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau who leads Ottawa in goals (11) and recorded a hat trick against the Devils just last week.

Three Thoughts

1.) Second-Line Magic 

Ever since general manager Steve Yzerman acquired forward Robby Fabbri from the Blues on Nov. 6, the Red Wings have played like a completely different team. Before the trade, Detroit had only scored more than two goals in six of their 17 games. Since the acquisition of Fabbri, the Red Wings have generated three goals or more in four of their last five contests.

As a result of Fabbri being positioned on the second line, that unit has recorded a combined 12 points over those five previous games. Unlike at the start of the season, the Red Wings’ offense is now led by two separate lines instead of just one. The impressive production from Detroit’s first two lines should provide their team with a great opportunity to surge past the Senators, who have produced just a pair of goals in each of their last two games.

2.) Night for Redemption with PK Unit  

So far this season, the Red Wings penalty kill hasn’t exactly performed up to expectations. But, there’s a very good chance for that unit to continue their recent success against the Senators tonight. Entering this game, Detroit’s penalty-killing unit has allowed just one goal in eight opportunities over their last three games.

Along with the Red Wings’ recent success on the penalty kill, the Senators own the worst conversion rate (8.8%) on the power play this season. Ottawa is also tied for recording the fewest number of goals (5) during five-on-four in the entire league this season. So, this game should provide Detroit with an opportunity to further improve their ability to prevent goals while being shorthanded.

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3.) Ice Baths for Everyone Postgame

While the Senators may not be one of the more talented teams in the league, their team is certainly one of the more physical squads in the league. Currently, Ottawa has produced the third-most total hits (559) among all teams in the league.

However, the Red Wings haven’t been afraid to utilize their physicality this season either. Coming into tonight’s game, Detroit has recorded 427 hits, which is the 16th-most throughout the league. So, there’s a real possibility that both teams may record more hits than shots by the conclusion of this game.