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Photo Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #36: Three things to watch for against Columbus

Unfortunately, the Red Wings reverted back to their losing with a 4-2 defeat to the Kings. However, the majority of Detroit’s roster is currently battling an awful flu bug, which definitely played a factor towards their sloppy performance back on Sunday.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Blue Jackets will be looking to build off their impressive 3-0 victory over the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals. During the previous time these two teams played each other, Detroit allowed three unanswered goals, falling 5-4 in Columbus. So, the Red Wings will surely be seeking revenge during tonight’s matchup in Detroit.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Patrik Nemeth
PATRIK NEMETH
Mike Green
MIKE GREEN
Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY
Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK
Alex Biega
ALEX BIEGA
Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY

Since coach Jeff Blashill is continuing to ease Anthony Mantha back into their lineup, he isn’t expected to rejoin Detroit’s top-line during tonight’s contest. However, the 25-year-old will likely be reunited with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi during Saturday night’s game in Toronto.

So, this will also likely be Robby Fabbri’s final game on Detroit’s first line. Meaning, he’ll swap places with Mantha on their second-line. In Mantha’s absence, the 23-year-old has been an excellent secondary source of offense, as he’s created five goals and seven points during that span.

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Columbus Blue Jackets 

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Zach Werenski
ZACH WERENSKI
Seth Jones
SETH JONES
Dean Kukan
DEAN KUKAN
David Savard
DAVID SAVARD
Vladislav Gavrikov
VLADISLAV GAVRIKOV
Scott Harrington
SCOTT HARRINGTON

This will be just the third time that former-Red Wing, Gustav Nyquist has played against his former team. While it hasn’t even been a year since Detroit sent the 30-year-old to San Jose, trading him away for a couple of draft picks may have been the wrong decision. So far this season, Nyquist leads Columbus in scoring (21) and has produced the fourth-most goals (7) as well.

During his two previous games against the Red Wings, Nyquist has failed to record more than just one assist. With that being said, his goalless drought against Detroit could very well end later tonight.

Three Thoughts

1.) Another Quiet Offensive Performance

Despite their high scoring affair last month against Columbus, Detroit will likely struggle to replicate that type of performance tonight in Little Caesars Arena. Along with battling the flu, the Red Wings have once again struggled to produce consistent offense over their last two games.

During that time, Detroit has failed to score more than two goals in each of their previous two contests. Along with Detroit’s offensive woes, Columbus has scored the third-fewest number of goals per game (2.48) this season. Meaning, that the winner of this matchup will likely be victorious by just a single goal.

2.) Lots and Lots of Turnovers 

So far this season, the Red Wings have been one of the most careless teams with possession of the puck. As showcased during their latest game against Los Angeles, Detroit committed a total of 18 giveaways. Through 35 games this season, the Red Wings have also recorded the fourth-most giveaways (411) throughout the entire league.

While the Blue Jackets have generated the sixth-fewest number of takeaways (219) this season, that amount will likely increase during tonight’s game. There’s a very high possibility that the Red Wings will continue to perform sloppy and careless with the puck, as they’re still fighting against nagging flu symptoms.

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3.) Deciding Opening Goal

Entering tonight’s game, Detroit has recorded the most losses (16) in the league when their opponent scores first. Additionally, Columbus is tied for the ninth-most wins (13) when their team is first to score. So, it appears that this game could be decided during the first 20 minutes.

Based on the numbers above, the Red Wings need to be ready to roll once the puck drops tonight. If not, it may not matter how their team plays through the last two periods of the game.