WGD #59: Three things to watch for against New Jersey

Following a 3-2 loss against the Sabers on Tuesday, the Red Wings are set to continue their four-game road trip later tonight against the Devils. If it feels like forever since Detroit faced off against New Jersey, you’re not alone. It’s been exactly 82 days since the Red Wings lost 5-1 on the road at the hands of the Devils.

Since then, the Red Wings have won just seven of their last 33 games. Although, the Devils have won just 12 of their previous 33 games. With both of these teams sitting at the bottom of the standings, particularly Detroit with their league-worst 32 points, this time of the year is always tough for rebuilding teams. But, the Red Wings should be able to give their loyal fans a show later tonight.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

Filip Hronek
Mike Green
Patrik Nemeth
Alex Biega
Trevor Daley
Gustav Lindstrom

Based on Darren Helm’s two-goal performance against Buffalo on Tuesday, Detroit isn’t expected to make any changes to their top line. Although, coach Jeff Blashill may be forced to replace Brendan Perlini on the Red Wings’ third line. Luckily for Detroit, Robby Fabbri could make his return during tonight’s game.

The 24-year-old missed Tuesday night’s matchup due to a jaw injury that he suffered against the Bruins back on Sunday. If Fabbri returns and Perlini sits out, then Luke Glendening would likely be bumped down to Detroit’s third line.

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New Jersey Devils 

Andy Greene
P.K. Subban
Mirco Mueller
Damon Severson
Will Butcher
Connor Carrick

While the Red Wings won’t be forced to match up against any superstar players from the Devils, they’ll still need to find a way to slow down Kyle Palmieri during tonight’s showdown. Through New Jersey’s 55 games this season, Palmieri leads their team in goals (21) and points (38) as well.

Furthermore, the 29-year-old forward has also recorded four goals, five points and eleven shots on net over his last four games. To make matters worse, Palmieri has created seven goals, 13 points along with 50 shots on goal through his 19 career games against Detroit. So, the Red Wings will need to stay alert every time he steps out onto the ice.

Three Thoughts

1.) Dominating In Faceoff Circle Within All 3 Zones

So far this season, the Devils have been one of the worst faceoff winning teams throughout the entire league. Through their 55 games this season, New Jersey owns the worst OZ FOW percentage (45.9%), the second-worst NZ FOW percentage (43.7%) and the third-worst DZ FOW percentage (45.8%) among all 31 teams in the league.

Based on these results, it’s surprising that the Red Wings didn’t win more than 53% of the faceoffs during their previous meeting against the Devils. Since Jan. 1, Detroit has produced the tenth-best OZ FOW percentage (52.5%), the second-best NZ FOW percentage (52.7%) along with the 25th-best DZ FOW percentage (46.2%) throughout the entire league. Despite the Red Wings’ struggles on the dot in their own zone, they should still be able to dominate the Devils in all three zones.

2.) Brendan Perlini Is Tough As Nails 

While hockey players are known for being some of the toughest athletes among all professional sports, forward Brendan Perlini is taking that mentality to the next level. After colliding with Sabers’ defenseman Henri Jokiharju less than four minutes into Tuesday night’s game, Perlini was cut across his nose by the 20-year-old’s skate. In addition to several stitches to his nose, the 23-year-old forward suffered a bruised right orbital bone as well.

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Perlini, who took this picture in his hotel room on Wednesday, may even play against the Devils later tonight. Since Detroit’s medical team cleared him to fly with the team to New Jersey, there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll return to the Red Wings’ lineup less than 48 hours after suffering this serious injury. While it’s not official just yet, the left-hander would likely resume his spot on the third line alongside Frans Nielsen and Valtteri Filppula if he returns later tonight.

3.) Don’t Skip The 2nd Period 

Despite New Jersey tallying four unanswered goals in the third period during their victory over Detroit back in November, the middle frame of tonight’s game will likely determine the outcome of this matchup. Overall this season, the Red Wings have allowed the most goals (83) during the second period throughout the entire league. As for the Devils, their squad has surrendered the sixth-most number of goals (64) in the middle frame this season.

In addition, New Jersey has also produced the fourth-most goals (22) in the second period since Jan. 1. While Detroit has generated the second-fewest number of goals (7) during that span, they’ll be provided with an excellent opportunity to improve their offensive results in the middle frame at the Prudential Center.