Time: 12:30 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: NBC, TVAS
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket/1270 AM
The Red Wings square off with the Boston Bruins in a Sunday matinee matchup. The Wings will be looking to bounce back from somewhat of a new low this season, being shut out in 3 of the last 4, with the exception being Thursday’s shootout win over the Sabres. While the shutout against the Rangers earlier this week was due in part to a strong performance from Lundqvist, the matchups against Philadelphia and Columbus left a lot to be desired. The Wings only had 16 shots in each of those games, which is simply unacceptable.
One player that’s been trying to single handedly make a difference is Dylan Larkin, scoring two goals in that game against Buffalo, and generally been trying to will this team to better results. Also performing well is Jonathan Bernier, putting up respectable numbers for quite a while now. Even Jimmy Howard made a vintage appearance in the last game, stopping 42 of 43 shots.
Madison Bowey may not appear in today’s contest after leaving Friday night’s game early with an injury and not returning. Keep an eye on the GDU post for confirmation of lineups. Given the ugly outing on Friday Jeff Blashill may toss his lines into the blender again. But beyond rearranging the combinations, he doesn’t have many additional players he can turn to. Anthony Mantha, although getting closer to a return, remains out of the lineup. It doesn’t appear any of the other injured players will be back in the lineup today either with Helm, Nielsen, Zadina, and Green all still out.
Given all of the above injuries, it’s interesting that Dennis Cholowski was sent down to Grand Rapids yesterday. He was scratched in both of the last two games, and there’s no point in having him sit in the press box when he could be getting big minutes for the Griffins. Although it would seem this is an ideal time to give him minutes at the NHL level, the team feels differently. Assuming Bowey’s injury forces him out of the lineup today and barring a return by Green, Jonathan Ericsson likely draws back into the lineup.
Up front, despite the pair of Larkin and Bertuzzi being split initially, the two seemed to be reunited later in Friday’s game. Expect to see them together again today. The other potential sources of offense in this depleted lineup will have to come from Robby Fabbri and Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou needs to find his game and quick, not just for the team’s sake but his own. His current numbers will put in a real tough negotiating position given his RFA status this summer. One other name to look for will be Taro Hirose. After a lengthy in stay in Grand Rapids, the young playmaker is trying to reestablish what he had going at the end of last season when he joined the team.
In net, the aforementioned Bernier is expected to get the start after getting the night off on Friday. Bernier has settled into a nice groove, or at least as much as he can with the roster in front of him. He hasn’t given up more than three goals since December 17, keeping in mind he missed a chunk of time in January with an injury. He’s stopped 87 of 93 shots since returning at the beginning of the month. Detroit will need him to keep at that pace to be anywhere near competitive in this one.
One benefit the Wings have going their way in this one is their opponent the Bruins, is playing the second half of back to backs after playing the Coyotes yesterday in Boston. The Bruins are very much a front runner this year but they are a veteran team that could have trouble with the quick turnaround for an afternoon game. Also given the Bruins place in the standings, this has the makings of a trap game for Boston. Boston is of course led by the dynamic trio of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. But they do have secondary scoring with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk as well. The bottom line is the Wings will have their hands full with all of Boston’s firepower. In between the pipes, Jaroslav Halak is poised to get the start after Rask started yesterday for the Bruins.