Morning Skate: Detroit Red Wings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets - Preview, How to Watch
Time: 7:00pm ET
Place: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket, 1270 AM
Blue Jackets Blog: The Cannon
No rest for the (road) weary it seems. After returning home from a four game West Coast road trip for a home game against Ottawa (a game they lost 4-3), it is back to the road for the Red Wings. Tonight sees the boys in red travel a few hours south down I-75 for their first meeting of the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Detroit shows up to Nationwide Arena tied for the fewest points in the league despite earning points in five of their last six games. As has been the case the entire season, they continue to be lead by the top line of Anthony Mantha (12G, 10A), Tyler Bertuzzi (8G, 12A) and Dylan Larkin (6G, 10A). Unlike earlier in the season though they look to have found a second line to provide some scoring with Robby Fabbri (3G, 4A), Andreas Athanasiou (5G, 7A) and Valtteri Filppula (3G, 8A) really heating up since being put together. Additionally Filip Hronek continues to develop and show that he has first pairing potential by leading the skaters in ATOI (22:39/game) while also chipping in offensively (4G, 8A).
Columbus welcomes Detroit mired in a somewhat similar situation early in the season as Detroit (they currently sit 6th in their division but only four points out of the second Wild Card spot and three points clear of Detroit in three less games). Looking at their numbers, somehow they are actually one of the very few teams that is having a worse time offensively than Detroit. Pierre-Luc Dubois (9G, 6A), former Red Wing Gustav Nyquist (3G, 9A), Zach Werenski (6G, 5A…did you know he was Dylan Larkin’s teammate at Michigan), Cam Atkinson (3G, 8A) and Seth Jones (1G, 9A) are the only five Blue Jackets with double digit points with Boone Jenner (5G, 1A) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (4G, 4A) the only other ones with notable offensive numbers. Where the difference is at (and why Columbus is within striking distance of a Wild Card spot while the Red Wings are scraping with Los Angeles and Ottawa for the most ping pong balls in April) is the defense. While Detroit is the worst in the league in terms of goals scored (85 GA), Columbus is only middle of the road but has given up 20 fewer goals than the Wings. Despite losing Sergei Bobrovsky in the offseason, Columbus has relied on their very solid blue line to help limit the number of shots on goalie Joonas Korpisalo while he has done a decent (but still not really good) job of keeping pucks out of the net (.900 Sv%).
Columbus has been a pain for Detroit since their inception and tonight will probably be nothing different. It should be another opportunity for the young Red Wings to measure themselves against some very good defensemen and continue their progression.