Game 2 in California? Are we back in the Western Conference?
After getting whomped by the Blue Jackets in Detroit, the Red Wings are already headed out to California for their young season. It’s not exactly the ideal way to start the 2018-19 campaign; ideally, you’d want to settle into some sort of a rhythm in your own conference before going out west, which is always jarring. But the schedule making-machine held no mercy for the Wings, so tonight they start a back-to-back against the SoCal teams, with the Kings coming first.
Despite some comments to the contrary, as of right now Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson will not be playing on this road trip, so expect the roster to remain the same as it was against the Jackets on Thursday; I don’t think any defenseman played poorly enough to have Jensen take their place, but I fully expect Blashill to puree all the forwards except the Nyquist-Larkin-Mantha line.
No news as of this writing that Jimmy Howard will not be starting, so I think that he will get the nod again because his impressive performance against the Jackets to keep the game close. Had Jimmy been lit up then I would expect Bernier to get the nod against his former team, but Bernier will still likely make his debut against the Ducks on Monday.
It will be interesting to see what adjustments the coaching staff makes. While the Red Wings looked good at times against Columbus, more often they were discombobulated. There will probably be several across-the-board changes as the Red Wings try to iron out the many hiccups from Thursday.
Not All is Well in the Kings’ Court
The Kings are not the Stanley Cup contenders they were in the first half of the decade, but they are still a strong hockey team that will be in the playoff mix; that’s what you get when you have Anze Kopitar, who doesn’t make it into the headlines as much as he used to because of the Kings’ collective fall from grace, but man, the guy is still a monster out there.
But. The Kings haven’t won a game yet. And no, neither have the Wings, but the team in red can still look back on all those wins in the pre-season to gather some confidence. The Kings have won exactly one game of hockey since training camp started. Heck, if you told me the Sharks crashed the Kings’ inter-squad scrimmage and embarrassed them that way, too, I wouldn't be so surprised. Either these guys are going to unleash unholy fury on the Red Wings tonight, or the only games they will win this year will be against replacement-level Canucks squads. It’s gotta be one of the two. 50/50 chance.