Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: BSDET, SN Pacific
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket/SN650
Canucks Blog: Nucks Misconduct
It’s going to be tough to live up to the fireworks of Thursday night’s game against the Bolts but the Wings will try to keep it entertaining as the Vancouver Canucks come to town.
The Red Wings will be without Dylan Larkin for this one following his suspension for standing up for himself (intent to injure). That’s going to be a big hole to fill and from Friday’s practice it looks like Jeff Blashill will try to do so by sliding Robby Fabbri into the first line center position between Raymond and Bertuzzi. This also results in a trickle down effect moving one player up from each line with the end result being Carter Rowney making his first appearance as a Red Wing on the fourth line.
Depending on how the center position works out for Fabbri, also keep an eye to see if Pius Suter picks up some extra minutes tonight. Another player to look for is Givani Smith. He only played 5:34 the other night, but seemed to stir the pot when he was out there. It seems likely that Blashill will get him up around the 10:00+ mark as the season gets going to keep everyone fresh.
Adam Erne appears to have received the bump into the top six following Larkin’s absence, and he is looking to see if he can pick up where he left off last year after a career best season. We’ll see what he brings to a line with Suter and Zadina. Speaking of which, Zadina is going to be anxious to get himself in the goal column early on this season. He was fine last year, seemingly playing a solid two-way game and helped generate some chances. But he only had 6 goals in 49 games. Snake bit or not, his draft pedigree and skillset result in an expectation for him to take another step forward this season in his age 22 year. If he can pop one early, the flood gates could open for him.
The obvious hot hand belongs to Tyler Bertuzzi who popped four on opening night, looking to squash any thoughts of a slow start following his length back injury last season and some offseason turmoil. He looked every bit the player he was before the injury, and the Wings will need him to continue to be that, especially with Larkin (and Vrana) out of the lineup.
Lucas Raymond showed glimpses of why Wings fans are salivating over the player he could become. On several occasions on Thursday he made passes to seams that we just haven’t seen from a Red Wings player in quite some time. He made some passes that created openings, rather than waiting for one to come. Particularly on the powerplay he found a way to work the puck through the high danger area rather than around the perimeter.
The defensive pairings looked to stay the same despite the tough night Thursday in their own end. It’s good to see Blashill trying to give the pairings time to mesh and not throwing them in the blender after giving up 7 goals and 48 shots on opening night.
Hronek looks to be picking up where he left off as the workhorse of the back end logging 25:09 in the first game of the season. His partner DeKeyser logged just over 19:00 and had a so-so night, and may even have been at fault on the confusion that led to the late Tampa tying goal. Mistakes happen, even for veterans, he should be able to clean that stuff up. If not they may have to look to move Seider or Leddy up if needed. It’s early though and no reason to panic yet.
Leddy and Seider were both over 20:00 on opening night. Seider had a mostly great debut in the NHL, picking up two assists and providing some additional entertainment showing no fear in taking on some of the Tampa players in the after whistle scrums. He got caught out of position a few times, but that’s to be expected of a 20 year old defenseman getting his feet wet. Leddy showed exactly why he was brought in, nabbing two assists and being a facilitator of getting the play out of the Wings zone and driving towards Tampa’s.
While the stats weren’t kind to Nedeljkovic, he actually played pretty well aside from the misplay late in the 3rd that ended up in the net. That being said, it was expecting coming into the season that he and Greiss would platoon and Blashill would ride the hot hand if either of them catches fire. Given the end result, expect to see Greiss get the start tonight.
Detroit’s opponent, the Canucks, are playing the second half of a back to back tonight after beating the Flyers in a shootout last night. This could obviously serve to the Wings benefit as Vancouver rode their big boys early and often with players like Pettersson, Horvat, Miller, OEL, and Hughes all going over 23:00. It’ll be a challenge to get their legs back under them less than 24 hours later and the Wings need to keep the tempo high throughout to capitalize.
That being said, those players were effective, all producing points except for Horvat. The Canucks are fairly top heavy so Detroit will have to do their best to contain the big threats and get their chances when they’re off the ice. That includes Miller who had a three point night on Friday.
Thatcher Demko got the start for Vancouver last night so it’s likely the veteran Jaroslav Halak will get his first start of the season. Halak and Greiss will be quite familiar with one another having shared the crease for the Islanders for three seasons before Halak moved on to Boston. Even though Halak is getting up there at 36, he has a long and proven track record and will be a challenge for the Wings.
It will be critical for the Wings to hit the accelerator early and often from the first puck drop. If they can come out of the gate strong and dictate the pace, they can bury the Canucks.