Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: BSDET, NBCSWA
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Capitals Blog: Japers’ Rink
The Red Wings kickoff the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup Championships tonight against the Washington Capitals. There is said to be pre-game ceremonies both tonight and for Saturday afternoon’s games against the Islanders.
Detroit could sure use a boost from those festivities as they try to shake off the pounding they took from the Sabres on Monday night. While at one point pulling to within a goal in the 3rd period, Buffalo poured it on over the final few minutes to blow the Wings out 8-3, while dominating much of the contest. It marked Detroit’s third blowout loss in four games, a stark contrast from their good start to the season.
The Wings are hoping that Michael Rasmussen returning from his two game suspension will offer a boost to their depth up front as they deal with an early season string of injuries. Rasmussen was skating between Zadina and Kubalik at yesterday’s practice. Lalonde made some other changes to the lines in an attempt to shake things up by adding Perron to the top line with Larkin and Raymond. Copp was centered between Soderblom and Erne, with Veleno skating between Suter and Luff on the fourth line. The defensive pairs were left in tact though.
By moving Kubalik to Zadina’s line, Lalonde might be hoping that will get the production going for Zadina. With 0 points in 7 games, he’s going to run out of opportunities when some of the injured forwards start to return as he could easily be the odd man out given his stat line.
Detroit will need to return to form in order to take on the Capitals who have earned at least a point in 7 of their last 9 games, despite losing their last two in overtime and a shootout respectively. The offseason addition of Dylan Strome has proven fruitful for Washington with the center tying for the team lead with 9 points each for him and Ovechkin. As is always the case against Ovechkin, one of the best ways to keep him from killing you is to stay out of the box and avoid letting him tee off on the powerplay.
Darcy Kuemper will likely start for Washington after getting the night off against Vegas on Tuesday. Kuemper has taken the lion’s share of the work in net, starting 8 of 11 for the Caps, posting a .922 SV% so far this season. It looks like Ville Husso will get the start for Detroit after Nedeljkovic was left in for all 8 goals against Buffalo and was understandably frustrated when the red light kept going off behind him in the final minutes of that game. While he would of course like some of those goals back, it may have been just as large of an indictment of the effort of the team in front of him.
Expect to see Detroit come out with a spirited effort after a lackluster week before this. This will be among Lalonde’s first tests. How quickly can he pull this club out of a skid to minimize the damage. Every team has slumps, the good ones course correct quickly. We’ll see if tonight is the turning point.