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Gameday Updates: Detroit Red Wings @ Montreal Canadiens, Line Combinations, Keys to the Game

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Detroit Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Skinny

Well, here we are hours before puck drop and still no call-up on the blueline from Grand Rapids. When Mike Green hit the season-ending IR, the speculation started that either Joe Hicketts or Filip Hronek would get a shot to close out the season in Detroit...sigh. Hronek looked calm under pressure the other night as he potted the shootout winner to lift the Griffins over the Iowa Wild — 32 points in 60 games as a rookie this year. Doesn’t seem like much has changed from the morning skate as Jeff Blashill seems content with Xavier Ouellet paired with Niklas Kronwall. I have an idea! How about moving Jonathan Ericsson or even Kronwall to the bench and letting one of these young kids come up from the minors and play? Wishful thinking, I guess?

Projected Lineups

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards

Tyler Bertuzzi — Henrik Zetterberg — Gustav Nyquist

Darren Helm — Dylan Larkin — Anthony Mantha

Andreas Athanasiou — Frans Nielsen — Justin Abdelkader

Martin Frk — Luke Glendening — Evgeny Svechnikov

Defense

Jonathan Ericsson — Trevor Daley

Danny DeKeyser — Nick Jensen

Niklas Kronwall — Xavier Ouellet

PP1 Unit

Gustav Nyquist — Henrik Zetterberg — Justin Abdelkader

Andreas Athanasiou — Niklas Kronwall

PP2 Unit

Tyler Bertuzzi — Dylan Larkin — Anthony Mantha

Martin Frk — Trevor Daley

Goalies

Jared Coreau

Jimmy Howard

Scratches: David Booth, Luke Witkowski

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards

Paul Byron — Jonathan Drouin — Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk — Jacob de la Rose — Artturi Lehkonen

Nikita Scherbak — Logan Shaw — Charles Hudon

Nicolas Deslauriers — Byron Froese — Daniel Carr

Defense

Mike Reilly — Jeff Petry

Karl Alzner — Noah Juulsen

Jordie Benn — Brett Lernout

PP1 Unit

Paul Byron — Alex Galchenyuk — Brendan Gallagher

Jonathan Drouin — Jeff Petry

PP2 Unit

Charles Hudon — Daniel Carr — Nikita Scherbak

Artturi Lehkonen — Mike Reilly

Goalies

Carey Price

Antti Niemi

Scratches: Michael McCarron

Keys to the Game

Play with the Lead

Let’s not sugarcoat it, the Wings have been terrible this month with a record of 1-9-2. A lot of this is due in large part to playing from behind much of the time — they’ve drawn first blood just once in their last five games. Carey Price hasn’t been at his best this season and the Wings need to take advantage early with the game’s first goal. If Saturday night was any indication, the Wings are still in compete mode at this stage of the season, having controlled many stretches against the surging Maple Leafs. But, giving their goaltender a lead for once might change their fortunes.

Young Guns Shine

As the season nears its close, the Wings are seeing some better hockey from their young core of the future. Bertuzzi has been progressing nicely as a two-way fit on their top line alongside Zetterberg and Athanasiou continues to show flashes of that “razzle dazzle” as the player he could be for the Wings in the future. Last week’s article by Craig Custance in The Athletic shed some light on Chris Illitch’s stance about the future as he seems ready to pass the torch from the veteran stable to the young, up-start core of players. With the playoffs behind them, the Wings can focus on their development, and it would be nice to see what Svechnikov could do in a top six role. The Habs have had just about as dismal a season as the Wings, but they have some speed in their forward corps that will be tough to match for the Wings’ blueline (like most nights). The key will be for the Wings’ young forwards to use their wheels and force the play on the Habs’ back end.

Traffic

Price has been a shadow of his former self all season long, but he is still considered one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL. His career numbers against the Wings are nothing to snicker at — 12-4-1, 1.98 GAA, .930 SV% and 2 SO in 17 games — and if the boys in red and white want to be successful, they will have to agitate him. Not many goalies in the league square up a shot quite like Price does, so the trick will be to generate lots of traffic in front of the net. Listen up Abdelkader, a strong net presence will go a long way in this one. Price has surrendered four goals in 17 of 44 games this season and if the Wings’ blueline can do their job at throwing pucks on net, then Abby or even Bertuzzi could benefit from a big night.