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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #29: Three things to watch for against Washington

The Red Wings hope to snap an eight game losing streak tonight. Following a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers last night, momentum is not in Detroit’s favor. To make matters worse, the red hot Washington Capitals are in town. Washington is currently tied with Boston for the most points in the NHL (41). They’ve been a dominant squad, lead by Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin.

The Red Wings meanwhile have floundered. This looks like a complete mismatch on paper.

Detroit are 0-8 SU in their last 8 games. – From OddsShark.com

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Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

A quick turnaround from Philly to Detroit means no updated lines. However, I can’t imagine the second line is broken up. Head coach Jeff Blashill reunited the trio of of Valtteri Filppula, Andreas Athanasiou, and Robby Fabbri and they were excellent. I think I speak for all Red Wings fans, though, when I say Filip Zadina should be seeing time on the top-line in replacement for Luke Glendening. Brendan Perlini should also be playing higher then the fourth line.

Uncertain for tonight: Patrik Nemeth. Nemeth was a late scratch against Philadelphia for unknown reasons. He’s a key piece to an already ailing D-corps.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals have been without their top center Nicklas Backstrom for the past 4 games. He’s questionable for tonight, but Washington still has Evgeny Kuznetsov to man the top-line. The depth of this Washington lineup makes the loss of a player like Backstrom a little less impactful.

On the back-end, John Carlson is enjoying a Norris-caliber season. In 27 games this season Carlson has amassed 36 points, good enough for 6th most in the entire NHL.

Three Thoughts

1.) Zadina’s ice time

Zadina’s role in the lineup has been one of much  debate among fans. A lack of powerplays has cost the Czech some ice time. Over his three games with Detroit, Zadina is averaging around 15 minutes. However, in Philadelphia he only played 13:03 TOI, a number that you would like to see higher.

The usage of Zadina as a whole has been puzzling. While he hasn’t blown anyone away with his play, the 2018 first rounder doesn’t have much to work with when being deployed with Frans Nielsen and Darren Helm. With how bad things are going right now, playing 13 minutes with mediocre linemates doesn’t seem like the best reasoning behind keeping him up. If this continues, he’d be better off back in Grand Rapids.

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2.) Containing Carlson

Carlson is off to an inane start. He leads all defensemen in scoring by a wide margin. The closest blue-liner in the league to his point total of 36 is Dougie Hamilton…with 26 points. That is just absurd. The powerplay is where Carlson is thriving. With 12 points on the man-advantage, he sits third in powerplay points for defensemen.

If Detroit wants any chance to stick in this game, keeping Carlson in check must be a priority. Taking him out of the equation would slow down the top-guns like Ovechkin and Kuznetsov.

3.) Washington’s lethal powerplay

Its no secret the Capitals have a star-studded powerplay. Its been like that for most of the Ovechkin era. The aforementioned Carlson is a key piece to facilitating their 5th ranked powerplay. To go with Ovechkin and Carlson, big names like TJ Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and usually Nicklas Backstrom make up their top-unit.

Defending Ovechkin”s “Office” will be key to shutting them down. The big-time goal scorer has made a living from the left circle. Washington typically feeds his one-timer with a royal road pass from the right boards or a quick pass across from the blue-line up top.

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