Seeing an old rivalry rekindled is a beautiful thing. Such is the case in tonight’s game on Versus between Detroit and St. Louis (7:30 p.m. ET) thanks to the Blues getting their season turned around under Ken Hitchcock.
Of course, that’s the same Hitchcock that gave the Red Wings fits when he coached in Dallas and Columbus, and after going 0-2-0 against the Blues so far this year, the Wings would like to get one over on their old nemesis.
One thing Detroit will have to do to win is figure out how to play a tight game. Their two losses to St. Louis this year were by 2-1 and 3-2 scores. That means either Jimmy Howard or Ty Conklin have to be super sharp tonight. After seeing Howard nearly pull off a shutout of the Predators last night, Conklin could get the call.
St. Louis will look to make life miserable by likely giving Brian Elliott the start. Jaroslav Halak got the win in last night’s 5-3 win over Dallas on Versus and getting that kind of offensive output has been rare. The Blues power play could stand to be sharp yet again to keep the Wings at bay.
Henrik Zetterberg had a bit of a breakout game last night earning an assist on one of Valtteri Filppula’s goals and looking like a play making threat all night. One guy you won’t see tonight is Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom who left last night’s game with an apparent groin injury. He hasn’t been the guy we’re accustomed to seeing, however, since being moved to the Red Wings’ fourth line.
Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.
It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.
“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”
Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.
Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.
Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.
“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”
Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.
The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.
“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”
Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.
The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.
If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.