Game Day Updates
A few updates from the projections in the morning skate, including Neal on the third line and Hamonic on the second pair. Czarnik and Prout appear to be the odd-men out
Optional morning skate for Calgary. Travis Hamonic is out there, so he’s set to return after missing two games for a family illness.— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) January 18, 2019
Mike Smith in the starter’s net this morning. Looks like he’ll get the start in net tonight vs. Detroit. #Flames
On the Wings’ side:
Red Wings holding an optional morning skate at Saddledome but am told no lineup changes. pic.twitter.com/TrGBzsWpjf— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) January 18, 2019
1. Johnny Gaudreau, Johnny Gaudreau, Johnny Gaudreau
If you caught the Morning Skate, you saw that Johnny Hockey now has 20 points (9 G, 11 A) in his last 9 games. He is on fire and has very well played himself into the Hart trophy conversation, if not currently the lead dog. We can be honest for a second, right? The Red Wings have absolutely no elite defensive talent on this team. Therefore who should we all be worried about? Yes, Johnny Gaudreau. I’m not really sure how the Red Wings will be able to keep him off the score sheet, but thankfully that’s also not my job. Hopefully Blashill and the Red Wings aren’t like me and can come up with a way to stop him, otherwise we could be in for a long game tonight.
2. Red Wings offense vs. Giordano-Brodie
Mark Giordano has quietly become a Top 5 defenseman in the league the last few years and that hasn’t changed at all this year. He is 2nd among NHL D with 48 points and just recently made his 3rd All-Star team the last 5 years. He’s 35-years-old, yet like a fine wine has seemingly only gotten better with age. Pair that with the always steady TJ Brodie, you have one of the better first pair D-men in the league. The Red Wings offense has done better of late, but if they are held in check by Giordano and Brodie this could be a long game.
3. Battle of the 2nd lines
I’m not 100% sure they’ll be matched up vs. each other the whole game, but both teams 2nd lines are going to play a key part to the outcome tonight. We know Larkin and Gaudreau should have their fun, but both teams 2nd lines need to contribute for their respective teams to win. Vanek-Nielsen-Mantha vs. Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik, who do you think has more talent there? Exactly. The Flames have one of the most talented 2nd lines in the league and if the Red Wings can’t match them, they are in trouble.