Tonight in Joe Louis Arena, the 811th meeting between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings will take place. It will also be the first of two meetings this season between these bitter rivals, since the Red Wings were moved to the Eastern Conference in 2013. In case you have not been able to keep up with the “Dead” Wings this season, they currently hold the first wild card spot in the east, and are one point behind the Bruins for the third spot in the Atlantic Division. The second meeting for these two will come this Sunday. But before we look ahead to the second game in the season series, let’s delve into this one.
Despite being pretty average in a lot of stat categories, the Red Wings only sit five points behind division leader Florida. For example, the Wings sit 21st in the league in goals for (161 through 63 games), 14th in the league in goals against (163), 21st in the league in goals per game (2.53) and 19th in the league in shot attempts per game (29.2). I cannot pinpoint exactly why this is, but I am going to go with the fact that they are often playing teams in the top-heavy Eastern Conference. The back end of their schedule is loaded with some of the top teams in the East, so it should be interesting to see if the Wings can play against some good opponents. But for now, I am going with the idea the East is not very good.
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As for the player spotlight in this game, I am going with the 19-year-old Dylan Larkin. Now if you have not been able to keep up with the Eastern Conference very much, you are missing out on another young talent who will be taking the league by storm in the coming years. He is an absolute speed demon on the ice with amazing skating skills. He also has a huge ceiling to reach in his future NHL career.
Since teammate Henrik Zetterberg is 35 and should being seeing the door pretty soon, this guy is one of their best options to try and replace him. While he has not recorded a point in his last four games (good news for ‘Hawks fans), he is second on his team in points with 39 on 19 goals and 20 assists. One of Larkin’s most astounding stats is his plus-21 rating. He is also above average in possession, as he has a 52 percent Corsi-for rating. He is definitely someone the ‘Hawks need to keep their eyes on in this one.
Between the pipes for the Wings are Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. Mrazek has played 43 games and Howard 24 games this season. So while they are not completely splitting the starting role, backup Howard is definitely playing more games than most backups in the NHL. That would probably be because Howard is 31 and Mrazek is the young gun at 23, and they are trying to make the subtle transition over to Mrazek as the full-time goalie.
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As for the ‘Hawks, they are coming off an extremely busy week with new additions to the team, and a gigantic 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. My boy Andrew Ladd got his first point since his trade, as he assisted Jonathan Toews’ powerplay goal Sunday afternoon. After Ladd and Tomas Fleischmann made their debuts Sunday, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will likely be hitting the ice for the ‘Hawks against the Wings. Dale Weise’s visa situation is still up in the air for this one.
It will be interesting to see how all these new trade pieces for the ‘Hawks gel in the coming games. This will be the first road game with all of them (or at least three of them), so it will be a good time for them to get to know each other and their new teammates. Although, the crew was able to gel enough to get a win against the league’s best team in the Washington Capitals. The ‘Hawks are also 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, so these new additions will be major keys to this team holding its playoff spot.
The game can be seen on Wednesday Night Rivalry Night on NBCSN, and can be heard on 720 WGN locally. That is all I have for you on this one, guys and gals, so until next time, DETROIT SUCKS!