Game Day Updates
Coach Blashill says Andreas Athanasiou (lower body) is out tonight. Could miss a couple weeks. #RedWings— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 31, 2019
#RedWings Blashill said he hopes Filppula can play tonight and expects Green to play.— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) December 31, 2019
Neither took part in the morning skate. If Filppula can go, then somebody else would have to sit to get Smith into the lineup, but there’s a whole bunch of people I’m sure Wings fans wouldn’t complain about not seeing in the lineup tonight.
Keys to the Game
1. First Line Production
All-Star Tyler Bertuzzi currently leads the team with 30 points in 40 games. Dylan Larkin looked like a breakout star a year ago ready to be among the elite this year, yet has struggled miserably and has just 24 points in 40 games to go along with a -16 rating. The common trend has been those two playing together while rotating the other winger. Lately that has been Athanasiou who leads the NHL with a -35 (not a typo) rating and has been as disappointing as Larkin after his 30-goal campaign. Whoever is in goal for the Sharks will be bad, so now is the chance to try and jump start something out of the Red Wings top line.
2. Special Teams
For as bad as the Sharks have been, they still sit atop the NHL in PK as they kill off 87.6% of their penalties. And even though their PP ranks 28th in the NHL, you certainly can’t give Karlsson, Kane, Couture, Burns, etc. extra space because, despite their struggles, those four are still quite talented. Not only that, but the Red Wings PK ranks dead last and PP ranks 24th. Whoever wins the special teams battle tonight could very easily win the game.
3. Contain the Big Fish
The Sharks top 6 scorers contribute nearly 59% of the teams points. Couture, Hertl, Karlsson, Kane, Burns and Meier have all been big names in San Jose for years and are clearly the key to any success they may have. The Red Wings have to keep finding a way to shut down teams top scorers. Yes, I am well aware this is so much easier said then done, but whether it’s Hronek or Green or anyone else, you need to find a makeshift top-pair D somewhere that can at least contain the Sharks leading scorers. If not, this losing streak will hit an unlucky seven.