Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: FLA Live Arena
TV: ESPN+, Hulu
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats
Following a surprising 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the Red Wings square off tonight with the neighbouring Florida Panthers. The Panthers have essentially locked up the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, with the only the President’s Trophy left to be determined as the regular season comes to a close.
Florida has trounced Detroit all year, scoring 15 goals in three games against the Wings while giving up only 5 goals. The most recent beating was just this past Sunday when they ran the Wings over in a 6-1 victory, showing just how far Detroit has to still come to play with the big dogs in the conference.
But Detroit did rebound on Tuesday in the victory over Tampa, in their first game without captain Dylan Larkin, out for the remainder of the season after core surgery. Joe Veleno filled in admirably as the top line centre and is likely to play there again between Bertuzzi and Raymond. Detroit will be looking to get similar scoring from all of their lines as they did in the Tampa game. Raymond potted one, Vrana had two for the second line, and Sundqvist banged homed a rebound for the third line.
The Wings will have to be firing on all cylinders again to try and keep pace with the offensive juggernaut Panthers, who lead the league in scoring at 4.17 GF/game. Florida is loaded with offensive talent the Wings will need to try as best they can to keep a lid on. It begins with superstar center Aleksander Barkov, and continues with standout Jonathan Huberdeau with 111 points so far this season, trailing only McDavid after he leapfrogged Huberdeau last night. The rest of their top six forwards are on pace for over 50 points each including Bennett, Duclair, Verhaeghe, and deadline addition Giroux. The Panthers also have a third line featuring rookie standout Lundell between Marchment and Reinhart. That trio has combined for 161 points this season, trailing the Red Wings top 3 players by only 20 points.
Bobrovsky has had a good campaign between the pipes this season. While he’s drawn the bulk of the starts for the Panthers this season, it’s been a more even split down the final stretch as the Panthers try to ensure he’s rested for playoffs. It’s yet to be confirmed, but with the Wings being the opponent tonight and the Leafs visiting on Saturday, it’s likely that tonight’s start goes to Knight.
Detroit will most likely continue with their alternating starting schedule between Nedeljkovic and Greiss, with tonight being Ned’s turn. He’s looked much like the version of himself from the start of the season, particularly with his heroics against Carolina a week ago. But perhaps the Wings give Hellberg his first taste of action since being signed, but that would be cruel punishment to throw him in against the league’s top offense.