Time: 7:00 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: BSDET, MSG-B
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Sabres Blog: Die By The Blade
Tonight the Red Wings take on the Buffalo Sabres at Little Caesars Arena as they close out what has been a lax schedule this week. This marks the second game of the season between these clubs with Detroit taking the first matchup by a 4-3 score.
Detroit ended a four game losing skid on Wednesday when they beat the Blues thanks in large part to a spectacular performance by Alex Nedeljkovic. The team is hoping to use that victory as a catapult to some better performances. In terms of their lineup for tonight, Joe Veleno appears to likely be out of the lineup with an injury, but has been listed as day to day and should return soon. That leaves Detroit very thin down the middle with Rowney slotting in as the 4th line centre.
Also of significant note at yesterday’s practice was that Filip Zadina and Givani Smith had swapped positions with Zadina sliding down to the fourth line. Now this could be more of nothing, similar to how the lines were apparently going to be tossed into a blender before last game. But after the opening puck drop the lines remained the same way they have most of the season. It would be a shame to see Zadina all the way down on the fourth line, as he seems on the verge of a breakthrough. But with the season reaching the quarter-way mark it’s understandable Blashill can’t wait around forever for the pucks to start going in. Keep an eye if this was just a practice experiment or a real change come puck drop.
On the back end DeKeyser looks to still be out on COVID protocol while Staal appears to be making his return to the lineup. If Staal is indeed back, it’s likely that Daniel Renouf comes out to make room for him.
In goal Nedeljkovic has gotten the last two starts. But despite the stellar performance against St. Louis expect to see Greiss get the nod as he’s been out of action for 9 days. Again something that will be confirmed later today on who gets the start.
Detroit’s opponent tonight are the plummeting Sabres, who have 3 wins in 12 games in November after a hot October to start their season. Buffalo is quickly looking like the team everyone thought they would be in preseason predictions. They have given up five or more goals in 8 of their 12 games this month, getting beat up often. It certainly looks like an opportunity for the Wings to pump their offensive numbers a bit.
Who had Tage Thompson as Buffalo’s leading scorer this far into the season? The winger has 10 goals and 15 points through 20 games this season which already makes this a career year for him. Rasmus Dahlin is also posting some decent numbers on the back end with 12 points through 20 games looking to get back on track after a very difficult season last year for the young defender.
Between the pipes for the Sabres, journeyman Dustin Tokarski has drawn the bulk of the Sabres’ starts so far this season. Tokarski was once a highly touted junior goalie who took a long time to gain a more permanent NHL roster spot. At 32, he is on pace to pass his previous season high of 16 starts with a few more games. But with Tokarski having played in Buffalo’s victory last night over the Canadiens, it’s more likely Aaron Dell gets the start. Game day updates will tell if Buffalo elects to ride the hot hand and give Tokarski the rare back to back starts.
Buffalo is a prime target for Detroit to show they’ve elevated to a level above the basement teams this season. But it’s an area they’ve struggled in against teams like Montreal and Arizona already this year. Let’s see if Detroit can properly play the role of favourite and beat up on a tired group in the Sabres.