Matchup: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings
Venue: Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI
Time: 5:00 PM EST
Television: Detroit – FSD+, Tampa – SUN
The Detroit Red Wings (15-10-9, 39 points, 4th place Atlantic Division), are now in the midst of a 4-game losing streak. The sudden lack of offensive production mixed with the mediocre play of the defense has allowed both close games and some not so much to slip away from them. There’s also the injuries to key players like captain Henrik Zetterberg (at least December 28th, herniated disc), Danny DeKeyser (shoulder, eligible for return), Darren Helm (shoulder, day-to-day), Stephen Weiss (groin, IR), Jimmy Howard (sprained MCL, 2-4 weeks), and now Justin Abdelkader with the head injury from last night. The injury bug is out in full force, and when it rains, it pours.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, (18-11-3, 39 points, 3rd place Atlantic Division), are also coming into a back-to-back game off of a tough loss to the New Jersey Devils. They were shut out 3-0 in Martin Brodeur’s 124th career shutout, and are still without Steven Stamkos (broken leg), Keith Aulie (hand), Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone), Ryan Malone (ankle), and Victor Hedman (lower body). Both teams have depleted rosters are struggling for offense, so tonight’s match could be the spark one side or the other needs to get rolling.
It’s the third matchup between these two divisional foes, with the Lightning taking each of the first two, the most recent this past week in a shootout decision. But it’ll be a first game ever for at least one player on the ice tonight, in Tomas Jurco, who has been recalled from Grand Rapids to take up some of the ice time that will be lost with Abdelkader out. While he’s not a sizable player by any means, (like our own Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar), he’s got great hands and is finding his scoring touch with the red-hot Griffins.
The Red Wings will need to find a way to take an early lead, and hold it steady through 3 periods. Which means Petr Mrazek will have to stand tall between the pipes, as he gets his first start since his 5-0 shutout against the Edmonton Oilers. Tampa Bay is expected to counter with the ever-skilled Ben Bishop, who has been a thorn in the Wings’ side this season. He’s been spectacular for the Lightning this season, posting a .931 save percentage and a 2.05 GAA. Red Wings are going to have to pepper him all game, and definitely convert on any power play chances they come across.