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Gameday Updates: Red Wings at Devils Line Combinations, Key Matchups

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Some minor changes to the lineups from the morning skate: Tatar and Abdelkader switch spots for the Wings whereas Kyle Palmieri will suit up for the Devils after missing two games with an upper body injury.

The Expected Lineup

Powerplay Units

  1. Nyquist-Zetterberg-Vanek (net front), Kronwall-Sproul
  2. Tatar-Nielsen-Larkin, Mantha (net front), Green

New Jersey's Lineup

Keys to the Game

Get the first goal

Neither team has a very potent offense, which leads me to believe whoever scores the first goal is probably going to take home 2 points tonight. According to Corsica Hockey, when trailing at 5v5, the Red Wings (46.91%) and Devils (49.61%) rank 30th and 29th, respectively, in raw CF%. When you adjust for score, zone and venue the Red Wings still rank last in the NHL. In short: the Red Wings suck when they’re trailing. If they fall behind it’s going to be hard for them to catch up, especially with Cory Schneider in net for the Devils.

Goaltending duel

Both Jimmy Howard and Cory Schneider have been great for their teams so far this year. Schneider, who is quietly having a stellar career, is bound to keep his team in this game well into the 3rd period. Meanwhile, Howard’s been arguably the biggest surprise so far this season for the Wings. With Petr Mrazek playing only “alright” to start the year, Howard has received the lion’s share of minutes as of late. It’s hard to keep a guy out of the net when he’s posted a .943 SV% in 11 games. Don’t expect this one to be a back-and-forth offensive battle, look for the goalies to keep this one close late in the game.

Don’t take the bait

It seems like whenever the Wings play a team like the Devils, Bruins, Flyers, etc. as of late, they get sucked into playing the opposition’s game instead of their own. Even though they had a lot of fighting majors to start the year, the Wings aren’t a physically-imposing team. Their best chance of winning this one is going to come from players like Nielsen, Tatar, Larkin and Mantha, not Ott, Glendening or Kronwall. Delivering hits is nice and so is playing with an edge, but Jeff Blashill needs to rely on the core of the team and the players can’t get baited into settling personal scores.