Time: 1:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: TVAS, BSDET, TSN5
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Senators Blog: Silver Seven Sens
The Red Wings are set to square off with their division opponent Ottawa Senators today for a matinee tilt at the LCA. The Wings will be looking to halt their recent skid that has seen them lose four in a row, as part of a 3-5-2 record in their last 10 games. The Senators meanwhile have stated to gain traction, winning three in a row and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 after a rough start to the season.
The biggest factor contributing to Detroit’s recent troubles is health. While the team did a good job bolstering their depth across the roster in the offseason, they have simply had too many injuries, to critical players, through the first quarter of the season. The good news is help is on the way. Several players appear to be game time decisions like Larkin (hand), Hronek (head), and Maatta (sick). Also on the road back is Fabbri, due to make his season debut in early January. Zadina (leg) and Bertuzzi (hand) are also likely to return early in the new year. The Wings received more good news on the personnel front as Jakub Vrana returned to practice yesterday as he took steps forward in the player assistance program. Lalonde noted it may still be a bit before he sees game action though as he gets back up to speed, and they want to ensure he is best setup for success. So while the team may still be missing several key players today, reinforcements are coming if they can hang on through the next couple of weeks.
Due to the game time decisions the Wings lines and pairings will need to be monitored closer to game time. But if Larkin can’t go, Rasmussen was skating in his place between Sundqvist and Perron. Maatta and Hronek’s status will dictate what happens with the likes of Walman, Oesterle, and Lindstrom.
For the Senators, DeBrincat has been very hot recently, helping turn the tide for his club. He has 8 points in the last 5 games and is among the leaders on the team with 27 points this season. But the team’s leading goal and point scorer is Brady Tkachuk with 13 goals and 33 points. He is closely trailed by Batherson and Giroux who each have 26 points. Lucas Raymond’s draft mate Tim Stutzle is having a solid campaign with 27 points of his own. So the Senators have several players who are firing on all cylinders producing around a point per game pace. On the back end the Sens are anchored by Thomas Chabot playing in his 6th season already, and rookie Jake Sanderson has done well with 12 points in 29 games to start his NHL career.
Ville Husso is expected to return to the net for Detroit after Hellberg got the last start in Minnesota on the tail end of back to back games. The next few weeks could be a turning point as far as who will back up Husso and take on a few starts. Nedeljkovic continues to search for the play that made him so promising. The Wings appear to be pushing him by bringing in Hellberg. For the Senators, Cam Talbot is expected to start. The veteran netminder has taken the lion’s share of the starts for Ottawa since returning in early November. In the last 6 weeks, Talbot has started all but 4 games for Ottawa, potentially playing a large role in their turnaround. He has a .917 SV% and 2.51 GAA.
Wings fans will be encouraged to not look now but after Ottawa’s early season struggles they are now just four points back of Detroit, making this a key game in order to keep some space.