Time: 5:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: FS-D, FS-F
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket/1270 AM
Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats
Well that was a rather unpleasant Friday night performance by the Red Wings, losing 7-2 to the Florida Panthers. They had gone 7 games since getting rolled like that, the last time against Tampa. But that’s nothing to be proud of. They are supposedly an improved team that while they were still going to struggle in the standings, were supposed to see far less blowouts like these. They’ve had arguably at least 4 of them in 19 games. You simply can’t lay eggs like last night that often. It was unacceptable last season, certainly not this season, and it should generate some passion and emotion from this roster when it happens.
Tonight we’ll see if the Wings get that kind of pushback performance they should after a game like that. They’ll have another shot at the squad that just embarrassed them with an early evening puck drop. Often when a team gets blown out like that, there’s some carryover animosity. But this game was over in the first few minutes, and both teams went into cruise control after that for the remaining 50 minutes or so. But Detroit shouldn’t need the Panthers help in getting any motivation for tonight. Their own poor play should be enough to ignite a spark. If it doesn’t, the pointed questions about if Blashill still has the attention of his locker room will come roaring back.
No doubt there will be lineup changes today, due to both the poor showing and the quick turnaround. Expect to see Svechnikov make his season debut, or at least he should be. Take your pick of anybody of who can be scratched to make room for him. Namestnikov isn’t likely to return after not being healthy enough to play last night. But that will be it for changes up front as there are no other forwards available on the taxi squad to sub in. Bertuzzi also isn’t expected to return as he hasn’t skated with the team yet.
One place where perhaps changes shouldn’t be made is the top line. After losses like that, the entire lineup will often see a shakeup. But Larkin with Mantha and Zadina had some flashes. While a line like that should consistently dictate play throughout the game, it might not be a bad idea to give them another shot to show what they can do.
On the back end there are more options for changes today. Biega is available on the taxi squad. As is Danny DeKeyser who was waived recently and been on the taxi squad for the past few games. I would expect to see him return. His contract still carries a significant dollar amount through next season, and he’s been trying to return to form after dealing with his back injury for a very extended period. There’s also the small caveat that has been mentioned that the Wings need to ensure they have a defenseman reach the games played threshold for exposure in the expansion draft. If DeKeyser doesn’t play a handful more games, the Wings are looking at a situation where they may have to expose someone like Stetcher which nobody wants to risk given his play.
In goal, expect to see Jonathan Bernier get the start after coming in last night in relief for Greiss for the final two periods. Given that Bernier just recently returned from injury, he’s probably fresh enough to get going again today following his 40 minutes last night.
Detroit’s opponent, Florida, has had as hot a start as anybody opening the season with a 11-2-2 record. Jonathan Huberdeau has been red hot with 8 points in the last 5 games, and some flashy play to go along with it. He has 22 points on the year. The other member of Florida’s dynamic tandem is Aleksander Barkov who has 18 points on the season. Their leading goal scorer though is Patric Hornqvist with 8, who was a pain last night as he often is, potting two goals in the game. On the blueline for the Panthers, the man to watch is Aaron Ekblad who has 5 goals among 10 points on the season including a blast last night.
In goal for Florida, Bobrovsky is likely to get the start. While the $10M man has had his struggles, he looked solid against Detroit last time stopping 31 of 32 shots in a 2-1 win. The Wings could really benefit from a shaky performance from him, just to get some mojo going offensively.
The bottom line is the Wings need to show some life again today. There’s no argument that losing as much as they have has to be taking a toll on the group, especially those that were around for last season’s misery. But they have to find a spark and rise above it. Muck it up, drive the net, and find a way to put a few in. Here’s hoping they can pull it off.