Red Wings Preview: Your Guess is as Good as Mine

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The Red Wings (7-14-3) and Blue Jackets (8-10-5) are slated to meet for the third time this season, with both teams recording a victory in the season series. Detroit comes into the game seeing Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, and Dylan Larkin nursing injuries and according to The Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James, Fabbri could be back tonight:

Blashill didn’t have much in the way of updates on the injured guys, but it sounded like Fabbri could be back soon — he landed on his back Saturday, and was close to being available Sunday.

The loss of all three for Sunday’s blowout loss to Chicago certainly hurt matters, but Detroit did have 46 shots on goal–with only two pucks found the net. Columbus will play a tighter defensive style than Chicago, and the five goals Detroit enjoyed against Nashville last Thursday and Chicago on Saturday won’t come nearly as easy for a team that has struggled to score this season.

Will there be any shifts in the lineup after such a lopsided loss? It’s anyone’s guess.

It’s also anyone’s guess as to what’s with the recent play of Mantha, a critical member of Detroit’s core forwards. He’s hit another stretch of play where he’s looked out of place, and at times, almost disinterested. Nothing revealed this more than Chicago’s first goal last night:

I’ve defended Mantha on many occasions, but this one just looked bad.  If you watch a few of the replays here, you can see Valtteri Filppula hustling to try and disrupt what he can–after he lost his stick which led to the break.

Now, if you watch from the beginning, Zadorov had maybe a stride and a half on Mantha starting in the Hawks zone. Mantha, if he “moves his feet” like Blashill has indicated in the past, is probably able to catch up and end the scoring chance. Instead, and you can catch it on the third replay of the goal (33 second mark), it’s the antithesis of moving his feet.

I’m not trying to be overcritical but that play stood out as one where Blashill looks absolutely right for benching him in the past. The production hasn’t been there lately either, and in this case, neither was the effort.

A few final thoughts

  • The power play has now scored in consecutive games, which you can practically hear the collective sigh of relief from the fan base. Evgeny Svechnikov was the latest Red Wing to get the goal which brings the second point on:
  • Down in Grand Rapids, Dennis Cholowski has eight points in seven games, Taro Hirose has eight points in four games, Givani Smith has two points in four games, and Michael Rasmussen has six points in seven games.  Blashill wanted Cholowski to be “elite” on the power play and he’s showing that not only on the man advantage, but even strength, too. When will they get their shot with the big club? Your guess is as good as mine.

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