Venue: Pepsi Center; Denver, Colorado
Puck Drop: 9:00 PM EDT
Broadcast: Fox Sports Detroit
A great first period by the Detroit Red Wings, (18-14-5, 41 PTS, 7th in West), was squandered by a horrible second and third that saw them lose out on a crucial two points in the standings last night. They'll look to upright the ship tonight against the Colorado Avalanche (12-20-4, 28 PTS, 15th in West), who they've had great success against this season and already have taken the season series against.
Their play in the first period last night against the Coyotes was promising, because they've had a lot of trouble generating offense early in their games this season. The fact that they completely lost it in the latter portion of the game is a complete 180 for their norm this season. They'll need to skate the entire 60 minutes tonight, facing an Avalanche team now on a 2 game losing skid and looking to grab as many wins as possible, regardless of the fact that they're completely out of the playoff picture already. There are already a few positive, and questionable, things going on for the Wings for tonight's game.
Mike Babcock has confirmed that Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight, his second start in 2 nights, after stopping 38 of 42 shots against Phoenix. This brings into question Babcock's confidence in Jonas Gustavsson, as generally the backup goaltender will take at least one start in a back-to-back game situation. On the positive front, though, Detroit fans will get to see Danny DeKeyser finally in action in his NHL debut tonight. He's had roughly a week of practices with the team now, both at the Joe and on their current road trip in pre-game skates, and Babcock feels he's ready to play with the team. He's also confirmed that Kyle Quincey will be back in the lineup tonight against his former team, after suffering a fractured face from taking a deflected puck, and Ian White will get the start after sitting out last night.
They'll have to come out swinging through all 3 periods tonight, as Damien Brunner is still out injured with a hip flexor injury, his 2nd straight game out of commission.
Players to watch:
- Danny DeKeyser: Not meaning to state the obvious, but of course DeKeyser will be the main story of the night tonight. He's been stated to be "a Brad Stuart-type player with size and better offensive skills". This could really come in handy for the Red Wings on their already sparkling penalty kill, and possibly on the power play, which, although it has been converting on a streaky basis, is not consistent enough for their liking.
- Jimmy Howard: It will definitely be interesting to see how playing a back-to-back, especially after such a bad loss, will affect Howard's play. We've seem him do it before, though, most notably against the L.A. Kings, a game in which he turned aside 45 saves on 47 shots in the game to carry the team to the victory. If they look anything like they did last night, they'll need that stellar play now more than ever.
- Matt Duchene: He's had goals in the Avalanche's last two contests, the first of which was against the Red Wings themselves. He's dangerous on the power play, which means Detroit will need to play a very disciplined, tight game to prevent giving up any opportunities.
- Semyon Varlamov: If he gets the start tonight, it will be interesting to see how he responds against the Red Wings after being dispatched so easily in their last contests. Detroit put 3 pucks past him before he was pulled mid-game. Jean-Sebastien Giguere took the start in their last game against Nashville, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Varlamov take the start.
All I know is that they need a much, much better performance than their latest stanza. Playing the arguably worst team in the league at the moment should definitely do that for them.