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Red Wings vs Islanders Gameday Updates: Line Combinations, Key Matchups

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NHL: New York Islanders at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Green draws back into the lineup for Sproul after being sick the last two games. No other changes on the back-end or at forward for the Wings. Mrazek confirmed to start over Coreau.

The Expected Lineup

Powerplay Units

We had a weird moment this morning where Sheahan was actually rotating in for Mantha on the powerplay which is bizarre, to say the least. I don’t think Blashill’s that out of touch reality. To replace one of your best forwards with a guy who still hasn’t scored a goal this year would be mad. So I’m going to keep Mantha on the powerplay here.

  1. Mantha-Nielsen-Abdelkader (net front), Kronwall-Zetterberg
  2. Tatar-Helm (net front)-Vanek, Athanasiou, Green

New York's Lineup

Keys to the Game

Zetterberg vs Tavares

Against Washington and Pittsburgh, Jeff Blashill kept trying to match the Zetterberg unit against the other team’s top line whenever possible. Now that we’re facing off against this shallower Islanders team (compared to the behemoths that are Pittsburgh and Washington, that is), I’d expect Coach Blashill to further push this matchup. And it’s not like it hasn’t worked out; Ovechkin was held pointless and Crosby was held to just a single goal when matched against Z’s line. Furthermore, the Z’s line actually won the shot battle in both games too.

Mrazek vs Greiss

This one is pretty interesting because the two netminders have had completely opposite experiences so far this year. Greiss started out hot and maintained his strong play until the calendar flipped to February. After that, he’s been horrendous other than his start against the Flyers earlier this month.

On the other hand; Mrazek started slow, lost the starting job and seemingly lost much of his favor with the team. But since the start of February he’s been much better and has really turned things on this past week. If he gets back on one of his tears, watch out for the Wings. He’s had four strong performances in a row, I like the chances of him making it five here tonight.

Keep an eye on Thomas Vanek

You could say this for just about every game this year but there should be added emphasis for this one. Vanek has just two more chances to show the Red Wings why he shouldn’t be traded at the deadline. He’s said numerous times he’d like to stay in Detroit if possible and you could certainly make a case for that. Getting a few picks for him and then re-signing the 33 year old winger in the offseason seems like the best-case scenario right now, but you never know what Ken Holland is going to do in situations like these. Perhaps he thinks the value Vanek brings to the team right now outweighs the future contributions of those draft picks. Perhaps not. But I can say for sure that Vanek’s going to play his heart out tonight and on the 28th in Vancouver.