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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

WGD #57: Three things to watch for against Boston

Who’s ready for some matinee action?! Detroit and Boston will face off at 12:30 ET this afternoon, kicking off three straight Sunday’s of Red Wings hockey. The game will also be nationally televised on NBC, showcasing the top talent on both teams. Dylan Larkin leads the Red Wings in scoring this season with 39 points, while Bruins winger David Pastrnak tops his squad with 77 points (and 38 goals!).

Record wise, the defending Eastern Conference champions top the Atlantic Division with a 34-10-12 record.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

The lines are still a mixed bag. After failing to put up 20 shots against the Blue Jackets on Friday, one has to think the lines won’t stick for much longer. The team has been shutout in three of their last four games. Andreas Athanaisou played a solid game in Columbus, so he seems like the easy candidate to move up.

The blue-line is still a heavy patch-work. Dennis Cholowski was assigned to Grand Rapids on Saturday and there is no timetable on Mike Green’s return from injury. Trevor Daley has had a rough stretch of games lately, not good if GM Steve Yzerman hopes to trade him at the deadline.

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Boston Bruins

Per usual, the Bruins are loading up the first line with their three best forwards. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is up there as one the best forward combinations in NHL history. Pastrnak’s game breaking scoring, Bergeron’s defensive prowess, and Marchand’s pest-like play will be an enormous challenge for the Red Wings defense. 

Of course, Boston bodes much more talent outside of the top-line. Torey Krug is currently rated as the No. 1 left-handed defenseman in the NHL, according to Corsica Ratings.

Three Thoughts

1.) Four for Five?

Amid all the continuous losing streaks, this late January-early February run might be the worst of them all. They’ve been shutout three times over the last four games by Henrik Lundqvist, Brian Elliott, and Elvis Merzlikins. It’s almost a miracle they mustered up three regulation goals against Buffalo.

The run could very well hit four today. Jaroslav Halak has been a quality backup this season, posting a .921 save percentage in 26 games. He’s the confirmed starter for today. Also, the Bruins rank first in the NHL in goals against per game (2.38). Obviously, not a great matchup for the NHL’s worst offense (2.02 goals per game).

2.) Lindstrom impressing early

Because Madison Bowey left the Columbus game in the first period, the workload for Gustav Lindstrom saw a major uptick. He jumped from 12 to 20 minutes between his first two NHL games. And the kid has shown he can handle it. On several occasions he displayed great poise to move the puck out of the zone against the Blue Jackets.

Entering game No. 3, and the first at Little Caesars Arena, Lindstrom will have another opportunity to impress the coaching staff. The potent Bruins offense will be his first major test.

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3.) Athanasiou back at center

Since returning from injury, Athanasiou has been moved back to center. This coming after a failed experiment in the middle at the beginning of the season. The initial showings have been promising. He was one of Detroit’s only noticeable forwards on Friday.

Hopefully that is a sign of things to come, as Athanasiou is in desperate need for a jump-start. In 39 games the 25-year-old only has five goals and 19 points. A huge regression from his 30 goal, 54 point campaign a year ago. Nevertheless, he won’t be shooting a 5.2 percent clip for much longer. Bet on him to pick back up the scoring.