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Gameday Updates: Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers Line Combinations, Key Matchups

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Line Combinations

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

Forwards

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

Defense

LD-Danny DeKeyser RD-Mike Green

LD-Brendan Smith RD-Alexey Marchenko

LD-Jonathan Ericsson RD-Xavier Ouellet

Goaltenders

Petr Mrazek (starter)

Jimmy Howard

Panthers Lineup

Forwards

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

Defense

LD-Keith Yandle RD-Aaron Ekblad

LD-Michael Matheson RD-Jason Demers

LD-Mark Pysyk RD-Alex Petrovic

Goaltenders

Roberto Luongo (starter)

James Reimer

Key Matchups

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.