Since today is an optional skate, it is safe to assume the lineup will look like what it did in practice yesterday.
Red Wings Lineup
LW-Andreas Athanasiou C-Frans Nielsen RW-Henrik Zetterberg
LW-Tomas Tatar C-Dylan Larkin RW-Riley Sheahan
LW-Gustav Nyquist C-Darren Helm RW-Thomas Vanek
LW-Justin Abdelkader C-Luke Glendening RW-Drew Miller
LD-Danny DeKeyser RD-Mike Green
LD-Brendan Smith RD-Alexey Marchenko
LD-Jonathan Ericsson RD-Xavier Ouellet
Petr Mrazek (starter)
LW-Jonathan Marchessault C-Aleksander Barkov RW-Jaromir Jagr
LW-Jussi Jokinen C-Vincent Trocheck RW-Reilly Smith
LW-Jared McCann C-Denis Malgin RW-Colton Sceviour
LW-Greg McKegg C-Derek Mackenzie RW-Shane Harper
LD-Keith Yandle RD-Aaron Ekblad
LD-Michael Matheson RD-Jason Demers
LD-Mark Pysyk RD-Alex Petrovic
Roberto Luongo (starter)
Mrazek vs. The Soft Goal
Soft goals hurt the team’s confidence in a goalie and a goalie’s confidence in himself. Mrazek made multiple stellar saves in the season opener, but Paquette’s tight-angled goal started a streak of four unanswered goals that doomed the Wings. Mrazek is the starter, but he needs to avoid some major gaffs to keep the confidence level high for both him and the team. Tonight’s game presents a tremendous opportunity for Mrazek to build his confidence, as the Panthers are missing some key offensive contributors.
Detroit vs. Math
Penalties are bad. Too many men penalties are awful. Two too many men penalties are (insert string of expletives). Yes it was the first game, but it is inexcusable for this to happen to professionals, especially after it was a problem last season. The Panthers were in the bottom third of the NHL in power play percentage (16.9) last year, but spending time on the penalty kill is not an ingredient for success, especially when the team is only killing 50% (small sample size alert). Whatever the kinks are in the penalty kill (ahem Glendening, Marchenko) it would be best to iron out those kinks in practice and not for an extended period of time against the Panthers.
Athanasiou vs. Opportunity
The big change for game two is Blashill’s new line combinations. Athanasiou is coming from the stands to the first line and has a real opportunity to cement himself in the lineup. Since the Wings are on the road, the Panthers will be able to match-up Ekblad and Yandle against the top line. They are going to be tough for whomever they are out on the ice with and they will most likely be on the ice a lot. Ekblad and Yandle both had over 25 minutes of ice time in the Panther’s first game of the season. Who knows how many chances Athanasiou will get to prove he deserves to be on a top line or in the lineup at all, so it is important for him to take advantage of this opportunity and prove that he can produce when given the ice time, especially if he is matched up against a top d-pair and can find some success.