Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Bell Centre
TV: BSDET+, RDS, TSN2
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket
Canadiens Blog: Eyes On The Prize
After a tight game with the Leafs on Saturday where they couldn’t quite finish the comeback, the Wings head to Montreal for a showdown tonight with Montreal.
The Wings have had a couple of days rest after not playing since Saturday, a welcome break after back to back games against two of the league’s more talented teams. Detroit’s rookies continue to ride high with Seider and Raymond still producing at a heavy pace. But a third amigo has joined the group in the form of Joe Veleno who landed with a bang on Saturday when he made his NHL season debut. Veleno posted a goal and an assist to try to send a clear message that he doesn’t want to head back to Grand Rapids anytime soon. He’ll have the chance to make a further impression tonight as Tyler Bertuzzi will remain out of the lineup with his ban from playing in Canada this season.
But he might not be the only important piece out of the lineup as Dylan Larkin did not practice yesterday and remains a question mark headed into tonight. Losing both Larkin and Bertuzzi would be a lot to overcome for this group, as improved as it has been at times. Adam Erne is also questionable, although he did skate, so keep an eye for the GDU post to see who’s in and who’s out. In practice yesterday Blashill had Rasmussen between Fabbri and Raymond on the first line. Rasmussen has had a tepid start to the season with 4 assists in 9 games, but would perhaps welcome a boost from playing between those two.
If Larkin and Bertuzzi are in fact out of the lineup the Wings will need veterans to step up and not leave all of the offense to Raymond and Seider. Look for Zadina to use his powerplay goal from Saturday to start building some momentum. The team will be looking for contributions from all over after relying fairly heavily on their top line most of the season.
Defensively, the shuffle could continue. Do either of Stecher or Lindstrom draw back in, or does Oesterle get more than a one game look? Many fans will tell you it’s time DeKeyser takes a seat, as he’s had a lukewarm start to the season. If Hronek can be scratched, why not DeKeyser.
Greiss got the start on Saturday, so expect to see Nedeljkovic get the nod in net tonight. They’ve had a steady rotation so far and with Greiss giving up 5 on Saturday it’s unlikely they change up that trend.
One of the biggest factors in this game could be special teams. If the Wings are without a pair of their top players, they may need to make hay on the powerplay. The team is currently operating at 15.2% on the powerplay, good for 25th in the league. It’s an area they’d like to see further improvement in under assistant coach Alex Tanguay. Similarly the penalty kill is only killing off 73.5% of penalties, 26th in the league. The Wings have had 5 on 5 success to start the season, but they won’t be able to fend off poor special teams forever. Might as well start turning it around tonight.
As for Detroit’s opponent tonight, the Habs are a long ways away from the Cup Finalist they were last season. Even accounting for some of their missing leaders and key pieces, Montreal’s brutal 2-8-0 start is hard to excuse. The Stanley Cup hangover is real in Montreal.
Montreal returns home after a 4 game western road trip that saw them go 1-3-0 and give up 14 goals. Thy played back to back games on Saturday and Sunday and are likely very much looking forward to being home. Montreal is one of the few teams worse off than Detroit in the special teams department this year, ranking 29th on the powerplay and 30th on the penalty kill. If either team corrects their special teams play tonight, it will be a heavy factor in deciding this game.
Offensively the Habs are led by the return of Jonathan Drouin, who has 7 points in 10 games. After that there’s a handful of faces from their Cup run trudging along. Josh Anderson has 5 points, Nick Suzuki 5 points (0 goals), and leader Brendan Gallagher only has 2 points so far. Preseason Calder favourite Cole Caufield was sent down to the AHL yesterday, a far fall from one of last year’s playoff stars. Defensively Montreal is relying heavily on the Petry, Chiarot pairing while they await reinforcements on the back end.
Jake Allen has been mediocre taking over for Carey Price until the backbone of the team returns. He’s posted a pedestrian 2.91GAA and .907 SV% through 8 games.
In the first matchup of the season between these two teams, Montreal dumped Detroit 6-1. Given how Montreal has performed during the rest of their schedule so far, the Wings will be looking to reverse fortunes in this one. Can the Wings an early nail to the coffin of last year’s Cinderella squad?