Game Day Updates
#RedWings Blashill says Mantha out tomorrow for sure, upper body.— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) December 22, 2019
#RedWings Blashill also says Bernier is out tomorrow. Howard scheduled to play but Pickard will remain with team to back up Howard.— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) December 22, 2019
Sunday read: The trade rumors were swirling, but the Coyotes stayed true to their identity, affording Annti Raanta another opportunity that injuries and Darcy Kuemper’s play have taken from him. https://t.co/68WqyVgvp8— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) December 22, 2019
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Filip Zadina
Andreas Athanasiou - Valtteri Filppula - Robby Fabbri
Justin Abdelkader - Luke Glendening - Darren Helm
Adam Erne - Christoffer Ehn - Brendan Perlini
Scratches: Frans Nielsen
Patrik Nemeth - Mike Green
Trevor Daley - Filip Hronek
Brian Lashoff - Madison Bowey
Scratches: Alex Biega
Taylor Hall - Christian Dvorak - Phil Kessel
Clayton Keller - Carl Soderberg - Nick Schmaltz
Lawson Crouse - Derek Stepan - Vinnie Hinostroza
Michael Grabner - Brad Richardson - Conor Garland
Jakob Chychrun - Alex Goligoski
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Ilya Lyubushkin
Aaron Ness - Jordan Oesterle
Keys to the Game
1. Test Raanta
The Coyotes lost starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper to an injury earlier this week and it’s presumed he’ll be out for awhile. The spotlight now turns to Antti Raanta who is 5-5-2 with a 2.72 GAA and a .919 SV%. There’s nothing wrong with those numbers but they are not as strong as his counterparts. It’ll be up to the Red Wings to test Raanta early and often as he now will have to shoulder the load for the next while for the Coyotes.
2. Larkin Needs to Break Out
Larkin has posted 2 PTS (0 G, 2 A) in his last 6 games. The Red Wings need more production from their leader if they’re to snap this latest losing skid. Particularly with Mantha out of the lineup, Larkin needs to carry more of the offensive output for this team. His 22 points in 37 games so far is well below he expectations of most coming into the season. Being on pace for less than 20 goals is not nearly enough for what the Red Wings need from him. He has showed signs of breaking out including several chances in last night’s game against the Leafs. Larkin has to find a way to convert more than he has.
3. Protect Jimmy Howard
This game will be the first start for Howard following his conditioning stint in Grand Rapids. The netminder has not had NHL action in nearly a month and the results prior to his injury were not great. Howard carries a 2-11-1 record with 3.94 GAA and .887 SV%.
Howard is a veteran goaltender who has seen it all but even with his experience it’s fair to worry about his level of confidence at this point. There’s hope that perhaps the time off allowed him to reset a bit and work out a few things through film review and his gradual return to play. But the bottom line is it would go a long way for him to get a few saves back under his belt, especially early in the game. A lot of that is on the goaltender himself of course, but his teammates can make that easier for him by giving him clear views of shots and preventing grade A and second chance scoring opportunities. Plain and simple, don’t leave Jimmy out to dry in this one.