Time: 7:00pm ET
Place: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket, 1270 AM
Flames blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
Another game, another loss. In the last game of 2018 the Red Wings encapsulated perfectly their current season with an inconsistent performance that saw them jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first period only to give it all back in the second before losing in a shootout to the Florida Panthers 4-3. Tonight they will look to put the play of 2018 behind them and start out 2019 with a bang against the Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames.
Dylan Larkin has easily been the best player on the Red Wings this season and is well on his way to breaking all of his personal bests offensively while carrying the lion’s share of the Red Wings offense this season. I bring this up because Calgary has four forwards having better seasons than Larkin: Johnny Gaudreau (21G/34A), Sean Monahan (21G/27A), Matthew Tkachuk (18G/28A) and Elias Lindholm (18G/26A) lead a very potent Flames offense that can score in so many different ways that it is almost impossible to stop. On the back end Mark Giordano, who also is having a season on par with Dylan Larkin’s, leads a defense that is every bit as deep and talented as some of the other contending teams in the league. David Rittich and Mike Smith have split time in the net almost evenly and while Smith has not been completely awful, his .888 save percentage pales compared to Rittich’s .920.
For the Wings it seems the injury wheel continues to turn as Trevor Daley will miss more time as the team announced he will miss three to five weeks with a broken foot. They are expected to call someone up from Grand Rapids but as of last night there is no word on who. It is not all gloom on the injury front however, as Darren Helm appears set to make his return to the lineup tonight after missing over a month with a shoulder injury. Helm was playing on Dylan Larkin's line when he was injured so it will be interesting to see where Blashill slots him in going forward.
As has been the case in recent games, there is no room for error in the defensive zone with the Flames. Unfortunately for the Red Wings they still have a lot of issues getting out of their own zone without giving up two or three shots on goal first. If they are going to have a chance at a W tonight they are going to have to find some ways to fix that problem, get pucks deep into the Calgary zone and get as much rubber onto the net as possible.