Time: 7:30 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: BSDET, MSG+
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
The Red Wings take on the New York Islanders tonight in Detroit. This marks the second of three matchups between these teams this season with Detroit taking the first contest 4-3 not long ago on December 4. Red Wings will remember that game for the Moritz Seider overtime laser from the left circle.
Detroit’s five game winning streak is feeling like a distant memory now as they’ve lost three in a row now. All three losses were fairly lop-sided games giving up a combined 18 goals against compared to only 7 goals scored in the tough stretch.
Detroit will welcome back Tyler Bertuzzi after a 4 game COVID absence. He will be a welcome sight for a team that has gone off the rails in the last week without him. Not only does the team get one of their first line wingers back, but they’ll likely get Gustav Lindstrom back on the blue line as well. That just leaves Staal still on the COVID list and likely to return soon with the likes of Vrana, Stephens, and Stecher still out for the long term.
Bertuzzi’s junior teammate in Guelph, Robby Fabbri, will play his first game following his 3-year $4M AAV contract extension with team. Fabbri’s name was naturally in the rumor mill with his previous expiring deal, but this locks him in as part of their core moving forward. Yzerman has obviously liked what Fabbri has brought after he was picked up from St. Louis in a steal of a deal. The contract actually makes Fabbri the Red Wing with the longest term currently. The contract will expire when he’s 29. It’s a good deal overall for both sides as Yzerman grabs his trademark flexibility with the deal, while Fabbri gains some security after injury troubles early in his career.
The Islanders just notched their first home win of the season on Saturday against the Devils. Despite not having their home opener at their new rink until December 20, that still hurts to have to wait to that long to win one in front of the hometown crowd. They are back on the road tonight though, which they have become quite familiar so far this season.
Detroit will want to jump on a team that hasn’t yet found their footing and it’s getting late to get traction. Despite winning two of their past three games, that doesn’t erase the 11 straight losses prior to that. A usually well coached group by Barry Trotz has seemingly lost their identity and look like a shell of the team that has found ways to do damage in the playoffs.
One player to look out for though is Mathew Barzal who after struggling early, has notched 9 points in his last 6 games. That’s after 1 point in his previous 7 games. The star center is looking to make a late run to keep his name in the mix for Team Canada, after many have slid him to the back of the pack given his sluggish start.
But behind Barzal nobody on the Islanders has really lived up to expectations aside from Sorokin in net. The next highest point total to Barzal’s 17 points is Wahlstrom with 13 points and Brock Nelson with 11 points. Of those 11 points for Nelson, 9 are goals however, so he’s been able to finish plays, just not make them.
The Islanders have struggled to find goals so far this season while Sorokin has tried to keep them in games. If Detroit can jump out to a quick lead early, the Islanders will have a lot of difficulty chasing the game. The message for Detroit is simple after a rough week, show up on time and find a way to get a couple to break a team searching for confidence.