Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: FS-Detroit, FS-A, FS-A Plus
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket/1270 AM
Today the Red Wings play the second of back to backs, facing off with the Arizona Coyotes tonight. The Wings enter the contest coming off a tough loss to Toronto last night that saw them play two solid periods before the wheels fell off in the 3rd period. Detroit gave up three in the final frame before scoring a late goal to break the shutout.
Compounding the problems, Anthony Mantha was hurt in the game after getting into a dust-up with Jake Muzzin after taking exception to an overzealous hit in a game that was waning down and already over. Unfortunately as the two went to the ice, Mantha’s head snapped back and he left with what can only be assumed is a concussion. The big power forward was ruled out for today’s game almost immediately which raises the concern level for the severity of his injury.
The Wings will look to rebound from that ugly ending today against the Coyotes. Detroit welcomes back Jimmy Howard to the lineup who is likely to get the start in goal following his conditioning stint in Grand Rapids. Calvin Pickard will in all likelihood remain in place as the backup with Jonathan Bernier leaving last night’s game with an injury. Howard will look to make this game marking his return from injury as a turning point, following his struggles prior to the injury.
Lineup changes are likely, but Blashill will have limited options for what he can do, Losing Mantha from the top of the lineup leaves Athanasiou as the most likely guy to slide up into the top six. What exactly the lines will be remains to be seen but look for Bertuzzi to reunite with Larkin, and potentially Zadina; leaving Athanasiou to play on the wing with Filppula and Fabbri. As far as the back end goes, perhaps Biega draws back in but that’s the only potential change available for now.
Despite the poor finish, as noted the Wings had been playing a solid game last night. They generated some good looks offensively and did a reasonable job of limiting both shots and opportunities against. They’ll hopefully be able to quickly forget that last period and carry forward the things they did well into tonight’s game.
Expect to see a spirited game from Dylan Larkin tonight. He had his fair share of chances last night but couldn’t put one in the back of the net. He’ll be anxious to respond after the way the game finished and send a message to his teammates. In that same vein, Athanasiou finished the game last night with some tenacity. He took what might be considered an ill-advised run at a Leafs player in the final seconds followed by a very brief tilt. It at the very least showed he has some passion and is tired of the status quo for this team.
The Wings opponent tonight, the Coyotes, are in a log jam atop the Pacific division with 44 points. Arizona has had a mediocre December going 5-4-0, but they’ll be looking to jump on a team like Detroit to try and separate themselves in their division race. The Coyotes newest addition, Taylor Hall, has a pair of assists in his two games so far with the desert dogs. He’ll be a player to keep an eye on as he tries to make an impression with his teammates by getting in the goal column. Another player that at least some Wings fans will be paying attention to is Jakob Chychrun who will be forever tied to the Pavel Datsyuk trade. The young defender has 16 points (9G, 6A) through 37 games this season. In net for the Coyotes, Antti Raanta is expected to get the start. He’s posted a 2.72 GAA and .919 SV% so far this season.
The Wings have dropped three straight following back to back wins a week ago. They’ll look to stop the bleeding tonight and put an end to another losing streak before the losses start to snowball.