Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Bell Centre
TV: FS-Detroit, NHL Network, TVAS, SN360, CityTV, SNE
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket/1270 AM
The losing streak is finally over; the Red Wings enter tonight’s action in Montreal against the Canadiens coming off of a win over Winnipeg following 12 straight losses. Whatever happens tonight, Red Wings nation has felt a lot of weight come off their shoulders with a single victory. Dare we even be optimistic that this squad can string a few wins together starting a new streak tonight.
The Red Wings have in the past found the Bell Centre to be a house of horrors. The Red Wings have gone 2-9-0 in Montreal dating back to the 2014-15 season. But recent history has been kinder with Detroit taking the last meeting in Montreal 4-2 back in early October. The game winner in that one was scored by none other than Anthony Mantha. Detroit’s leading goal scorer appears to possibly be making his return to the lineup tonight following a lengthy absence dating back to November 23 when he injured his knee against the Devils. The dynamic goal scorer has been sorely missed and was practicing on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Filip Zadina as of yesterday.
Speaking of Zadina, the young sniper looks to keep the hot hand coming off of his first goal of the season Thursday against Winnipeg. Zadina, like most goal scorers, can be streaky. Hopefully this is the start of one of those heaters. He’s demonstrated his ability as a play-maker since his call-up (then sent down, then called up, etc.) grabbing 2 assists on Thursday and 5 assists in his last 5 games. Look for some potential magic between he and Mantha depending on how long that line stays together.
The other hot hand at the moment belongs to Robby Fabbri who had two goals and an assist against the Jets on Thursday and has continued to run hot since joining the Wings. He’ll remain up on the top line with Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin, presumably until Mantha gets his legs back under him. Andreas Athanasiou is also expected to make his return to the lineup after missing the back to back games against Winnipeg. Athanasiou appeared to be odd man out of the top six at practice, but stay posted for final lineups.
On the back end, the lineup will possibly undergo multiple changes following Thursday’s game. Ericsson has already been ruled out after leaving the contest, and Patrik Nemeth did not skate on Friday. As a result Madison Bowey has been called back up from Grand Rapids after a short stint. If Nemeth ends up staying in the lineup, look for updates to see who gets the scratch between Bowey, McIlrath, and Biega. Oddly, if Nemeth can’t go, Trevor Daley will be the only healthy left-handed shot on the blue line. This makes the call-up of Bowey over the lefty Cholowski a little more curious.
Jonathan Bernier is the projected starter coming off the win Thursday against Winnipeg. Bernier will look to duplicate his performance coming up with 26 saves on 28 shots after a stretch of tough outings that saw him post a save percentage above .900 in only 3 of 9 games.
The Wings opponent tonight is their original six foe the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs have bounced back with three straight wins after a tough stretch that saw them lose 9 of 10. Carey Price has been a large factor in that turnaround stopping 83 of 87 shots in his last three outings. The Canadiens are led by old friend Tomas Tatar (11G, 17A), Brendan Gallagher (14G, 12A), and Philip Danault (7G, 18A) up front. On the blue line, Shea Weber has had a resurgence finally staying healthy and has produced 10 goals and 16 assists, putting him in a tie for 5th among scoring for defensemen.
The Wings hope to keep the good momentum rolling tonight, but the Habs are desperate to keep ahead of the Atlantic division rivals nipping at their heels in the standings.