We’re getting close to game time between the Red Wings and the Blackhawks. While line combinations, starting goalies and healthy scratches are wildly subject to change, these are the best guesses from a variety of sources.
Here’s a few notes to consider first, though. Cristobal Huet is expected to start the game and while Adam Burish looks like he’s just about ready to return from injury, he’s not expected to be in the lineup today. Jimmy Howard is said to be the starter for Detroit. As we’ve noted before, Andreas Lilja is working his way back from a severe injury while “Captain” Kirk Maltby is out for the year.
(Mean-spirited side note: Todd Bertuzzi isn’t skating so lethargically due to an injury. He just may not care.)
Jump for possible line combinations.
Ansar Khan was nice enough to provide a projected starting lineup for Detroit. (Note: in case you’re wondering, the first four lines are offense, the next three are defense, then we have scratches aka players who are inactive and then finally the goalies.)
Fantasy Hockey 911 has what seems to be reasonably accurate line combinations for the Blackhawks.
Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Troy Brouwer – Dave Bolland – Marian Hossa
Andrew Ladd – John Madden – Kris Versteeg
Tomas Kopecky – Ben Eager – Dustin Byfuglien
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jordan Hendry – Kim Johnsson
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.