Time: 7:30 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: FS-D, NBCSCH+, ESPN+
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket/1270 AM
Panthers Blog: Second City Hockey
The Red Wings get another shot at the Chicago Blackhawks starting tonight. After a lacklustre first series against Chicago in which the team was humiliated with 4-1 and 6-2 losses, the Wings look better of late. The team has split series with Nashville and Florida leading into this, and are looking to put back to back wins together for the first time this season.
For the Wings, Robby Fabbri will need to maintain the hot stick after scoring in both games against Nashville. Assuming he maintains his spot between Bobby Ryan and Anthony Mantha, that line might be a difference maker against the top heavy Blackhawks. Speaking of Mantha, it was a late goal to put the game away but his marker against Nashville was the type of laser he’s capable of, and hopefully this gives him the boost he’s been looking for. Looking at the top line, Dylan Larkin giving his offensive production a bump after posting a single assist in his last 5 games. Larkin’s played well enough but the team needs nightly production from him if they want to put a couple of wins together. If he starts to get hot it likely means Filip Zadina is too.
Of course, pleasant surprises also help, like when Glendening and Erne score in the same game like they did against Nashville. Obviously Detroit’s bottom six should never be counted on for the type of night they had, but it gave this team a win without the big dogs having to do all the work. This team will get a boost when Tyler Bertuzzi returns, which is expected shortly, although he may miss all of the Chicago series.
On the blueline, the big news dropped yesterday that Detroit placed Danny DeKeyser on waivers. Although he’s been a healthy scratch of late, the news is surprising nonetheless. Although his play has warranted it, it is still an unfortunate development given his battle to return from a significant back injury. On one side of the coin, if this was injury related they likely would have placed him on injured reserve, so he probably hasn’t had a setback. The problem is that may mean this about the best he is capable of now. He carries a significant cap hit for the rest of this season and next, and on a team finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel regarding difficult contracts, DeKeyser might be the latest addition to that list.
Expect the rostered defensive pairs tonight to stay the same as they have recently given Detroit’s success limiting other teams offensively. Detroit has quietly become at least respectable in limiting chances and Yzerman’s remodelling of the backend is starting to take shape.
Between the pipes, Thomas Greiss is expected to start after finally getting some relief when Jonathan Bernier returned last game. Greiss has notably gotten very little goal support when he is the starter. He’s looked good of late including a strong showing in the Florida series where he grabbed his first win as a Wing. Hopefully a well deserved night off results in him being refreshed and ready to take on some of the Blackhawks big guns.
The Blackhawks enter the series having won 5 of their last 7 games, and losing only once in regulation. As always, Chicago is led by Patrick Kane who is on fire recently, popping off for 11 points in his last 5 games. Kane and Alex DeBrincat have done a lot of the legwork for the Hawks, with 22 and 16 points respectively. The only other player to crack into double digit points on the team is Dominik Kubalik with 12. Naturally if the Wings want to get good results in this series they’ll have to focus on shutting down that top line featuring Kane and DeBrincat.
The Wings will also need to be very mindful of taking any penalties and being at their best on the penalty kill when called upon. The Hawks are sitting 2nd in the league on the powerplay with a 34.7% success rate on the man advantage. Chicago is not nearly as effective at even strength with their overall offensive production dropping to 17th in the league at 2.94 GF/game.
Defensively, Chicago is still led by veteran Duncan Keith with his ice time averaging 24:17 on the season to go along with his 5 points that paces the backend, along with Connor Murphy. The rest of the Hawks backend features a couple of veterans in Calvin De Haan and Nikita Zadorov, along with a mix of youngsters trying to establish a permanent role in the lineup.
In goal, Kevin Lankinen has dominated the crease time for Chicago, starting 11 of the team’s 16 games. He is expected to start tonight as well. Lankinen has performed well above expectations with a 2.49 GAA and .925 SV%, making the goaltender a position of strength for the Hawks. The Wings are hoping that with some game tape on the rookie Finnish netminder now, they’ll be able to find some weaknesses.
Most nights the talk is about the Wings being in desperate need of some secondary scoring. Well they got it Saturday in Nashville. Tonight it’s the leader’s turn. The Wings need Larkin to have a big night to bust out of his offensive slump. If the Wings can get a goal or two from him and Zadina, the team will be well on their way to giving Chicago a solid gut punch to start this series.