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Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Venue: Nationwide Arena; Columbus, Ohio
Time: 2:00 PM EST
Television: Detroit- FS-D; Columbus- FS-Ohio
The Detroit Red Wings (12-8-4, 28 points, 4th place Western Conference) have continued their strong play night after night over the past two weeks with their latest 3-0 victory on Thursday night over the Edmonton Oilers. Since the Red Wings lost 5 games in a row, they have gone 5-1-1 over their past seven games while outscoring their opponents 21-9. With their victory Thursday night, the Red Wings extended their winning streak to two games, which is one short of their longest of the season. They will look to push that streak to three when they travel to Nationwide Arena in the first part of a home and home series to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (8-12-14, 20 points, 15th place Western Conference). This will be a good opportunity for the Red Wings to improve on their road record where they are 3-4-2 on the season and will be playing 15 of their final 24 games. The main thing for the Red Wings to improve on the road has to be the powerplay. They continue to be the only team in the NHL without a road powerplay goal, and if they expect to be competitive at all in the playoffs will need to start converting on road opportunities. The powerplay in general has not been a strong point of the Red Wings all season, especially in the past couple of weeks. They have not scored a powerplay goal in 5 games so it would help for the Red Wings to come out strong with a quick powerplay goal today. It might be tough for the Red Wings to break the road powerplay streak though when they visit Columbus. Despite being the worst team in the Western Conference and second worst in the entire NHL, the Blue Jackets rank 6th in penalty killing with an 85.5% success rate.
After his strong play in the past three games, giving up only 3 goals total, Jimmy Howard will get a break in net and Jonas Gustavsson will start in his place. Gustavsson’s last start, his first with the Red Wings, could not have gone much better when he gave up only 1 goal in a 2-1 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks on February 28th. In his career, Gustavsson has appeared in only one game against Columbus, giving up 3 goals on 32 shots and earning the loss in the game. He will look to carry over his strong start against the Sharks and help the Red Wings make it six games straight without giving up more than two goals.
For having the worst record in the Western Conference and the second worst in the entire NHL, the Blue Jackets come in with a 3-0-2 record in their past five and winner of three games in a row, all at home. The Blue Jackets have been playing a lot of close games recently with their past nine games being one goal contests, so they are playing strong hockey at the moment but just coming up on the short end of the contests. Columbus is coming off of an impressive 2-1 overtime win over one of the top teams in the NHL in the Vancouver Canucks. The Blue Jackets are expected to start Sergei Bobrovsky in net after Steve Mason has struggled for the most part this season. This would be Bobrovsky’s fourth career game against the Red Wings, where he is 1-1-1 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.96 GAA. The Blue Jackets have played well against the Red Wings this season posting a 2-0-1 record against them. The last meeting between the two clubs ended in favor of the Blue Jackets 3-2 on February 21st.
Players To Watch:
- Pavel Datsyuk has dominated the Blue Jackets throughout his career, posting 64 points in (21 goals, 43 assists) in 54 games. This could be a good opportunity for Datsyuk to get back on track and start producing more points like he is accustomed to.
- Damien Brunner is searching for his first goal in 5 games since he scored 2 against the Canucks on February 24th. In the last meeting between the two clubs, Brunner tallied a goal and has 2 goals in three games against the Blue Jackets so far this season.
- Vinny Prospal leads the Bluejackets in both goals (9) and points (14) this season. In the last meeting between the clubs, Prospal scored the game winning goal in the final minute of the game to lift the Blue Jackets to the 3-2 win. In his career, Prospal has collected 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games against the Red Wings.
- Fedor Tyutin currently leads the team in assists (12) while getting 24:01 total on ice per game. In his career, Tyutin has 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in 27 career games.
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