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Red Wings vs. Panthers: Game Day Updates

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Red Wings concluded morning skate, and it looks like Jimmy Howard will be the starter yet again. No other major lineup changes as the lines appear to stay the same as well:

Worth noting that Witkowski is back from his 10-game suspension tonight. Myself, along with many others I’m sure, forgot he existed. Remember how much fun the Flames game was? Me too, and that was short lived because the Red Wings are 2-6-3 since. Maybe adding Witkowski to the lineup soon could provide a spark? Hey, I don’t know, I’m reaching for anything with this team at the moment.

Oh man I almost forgot, it’s D-Boss night at Little Caesars arena!

As far as the Panthers go:

Barkov is day-to-day with an upper-body injury he sustained after getting hit by Jacob Trouba in the Panthers game vs. the Jets last week. If he does play today, that could be a huge boost for the Panthers who have lost 4 of their last 5 and are really struggling much like the Red Wings.

Key Matchups

1.Whoever wants to step up in goal for the Red Wings vs. the Panthers scorers

It will be Jimmy Howard starting tonight, but which Howard will we see? Petr Mrazek has had his chances of late to take back the starters role, but has struggled as well. Now with trade rumors of him possibly going to the Oilers, the Red Wings goaltending position continues to be a circus. Despite it not translating in the standings, the Panthers are led by 3 sick, young forwards in Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. If Howard or Mrazek can’t step up, especially if Barkov plays, the Red Wings will see their current slide continue.

2. Aaron Ekblad vs. The Top 2 Red Wings lines

Due to the Red Wings being at home, it will be interesting to see what line Jeff Blashill wants to throw out their against Ekblad. I’m assuming it’ll be the Z line, but hey what do I know? Ekblad is possibly the best young D in all of hockey, and he’s still just 21 years old. He’s quickly becoming one of the best defenseman in the game as well, and now he has help on his line in the form of Keith Yandle. If the Red Wings want to be able to top the Panthers, they’ll need their top lines producing against Ekblad.

3. Red Wings PP vs. Panthers PK

Despite being 2 for their last 19 PP attempts, the Red Wings man advantage unit still ranks 9th in the league at 20.6%. If there was ever a game for them to wake up, it would be tonight. The Panthers PK is 5th worst in the NHL, as they kill off only 76.6%. This is a game where the trio of youth need to get going for the Red Wings, and the power play is the place to do that. Look for Mantha, Larkin and AA to take advantage of Florida’s lackluster penalty killing unit.