Time: 8:00pm ET
Place: Gila River Arena, Glendale, AZ
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket, 1270 AM
So game one in the post Gus Nyquist era did not go so well. Tonight the Red Wings head out west for game two in a bit of a bizzaro world game against the Arizona Coyotes. Over the years, many of the games between these two has seen one poised for a run at the playoffs and the other playing out the string and looking up in the standings at almost the entire league. While it normally was the Red Wings prepping for a playoff run, this time around it is the Coyotes sitting one point out of the crazy Wild Card race in the West while the Red Wings sit one point above the Los Angeles Kings for 30th place in the league.
Speaking of Arizona, a quick glance at the teams stats without looking at the standings and you might not guess they are in the thick of a playoff race. Brad Richardson leads the team in goals with 16, followed closely by Alex Galchenyuk (15) and Derek Stepan (13). Compare that with the Red Wings who have two players with more goals (Larkin 26, Athanasiou 22) and one more with the same amount (Mantha 16) as Richardson. Dig deeper though and where the success comes from starts to show more. Arizona has nine forwards with double digit goals and only one with less than five from forwards who have played more than two games so they have found ways to get offense up and down their lines. On defense the blue line is lead by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and getting quality contributions from Alex Goligoski and Jordan Oesterle. Of course no game with the Coyotes can occur without the obligatory Jacob Chychrun mention. The young defenseman has done ok for himself with four goals an eleven assists in 42 games as he has dealt with some injury issues again. In goal, Darcy Kuemper has carried the lion’s share appearing in 38 games and has ultimately done quite well in carrying a .917 save percentage.
For the Red Wings, while some things have changed some stay the same. A slight concern yesterday with Dylan Larkin and Mike Green both missing practice lead to many to wonder if two of the Wings top players this season will miss the game today. Coach Blashill cleared things up by saying both are fine and are expected to be ready to go tonight. On the less happy front, Anthony Mantha is the latest winner of the flu sweepstakes and may miss tonight. There was some talk about possibly calling someone up on an emergency call up in case Mantha cannot go tonight but there was no word yet on who it could be. Trevor Daley and Tomas Vanek appear to still be out of the lineup for tonight.
This could be an odd game and go many ways. Arizona is one point out of a playoff spot but some of it seems a bit smoke and mirrory. The Red Wings have some talent and despite the record have been competitive in most of their games this year but if the last game is any indication the selling off of Gustav Nyquist and Nick Jensen could be the point where some of the players allowed themselves to fully accept the season is going nowhere and their fire died down. If that is the case, this could be a long 20 games. I certainly hope for everyone involved that is not the case and tonight is a good chance for them to show it.