We’ve seen plenty from the Red Wings and Blues this season, but when they get together tonight in Detroit (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it’s about as big of a game between the two teams as we’ve seen in a long time.
Bragging rights just aren’t on the line tonight but the Wings have a chance to put the Blues down a bit in the race for the Central Division as well. Detroit heads into tonight’s game with a one point lead on St. Louis and Chicago and if the Red Wings could score a regulation win, putting the Blues three points back in their rear view mirror would be a lot of breathing room for how things have gone this season.
The Blues, Wings, and Blackhawks have all taken turns atop the division (and the conference too) thanks to trading off wins against the rest of the competition. Getting wins against each other is also huge thanks to the tiebreakers that could come into play at the end of the season. For coaches Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock getting playoff-like games this early in the season makes for great preparation for the postseason.
The Blues will have to contend with how well the Red Wings play at home. Detroit hasn’t lost at home in 16 games, their last loss coming on November 3 to Calgary. More than two months at home without losing? That’s taking care of business. St. Louis has already lost twice to Detroit at Joe Louis Arena during this 16-game streak.
On the upside for the Blues, they’re coming into tonight’s game on a four-game win streak. Also working to their advantage is that three of the four these two teams have played already were one-goal games. With how Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have played in goal this season, that helps them a lot.
It’s not going to be easy for St. Louis, but if they want to keep things nice and tight atop the Central they’ll need to come away with two points somehow.
Surprising offense: Two guys to look out for tonight are Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi and St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Bertuzzi has looked like a swift, young skater with velvety hands both in-game and in the shootout. Pietrangelo, meanwhile, is providing the blue line offense that makes him look more like a forward. For a Blues team that doesn’t score a ton of goals, his contributions are huge.
To say that the Kings haven’t been lucky this season would be an understatement.
Earlier this month, they lost starting goaltender Jonathan Quick for three to four months and now, they may have lost his backup too.
On Saturday, Jeff Zatkoff suffered a groin injury during the team’s morning skate and needed help coming off the ice.
“He stopped a shot, and his groin tightened up,” head coach Darryl Sutter said, per lakingsinsider.com. “We’ve seen it in a game, and now we’ve seen it in practice.”
Even with him in goal, the Kings had been struggling mightily since Quick went down.
Zatkoff has an 0-3 record with a 4.37 goals-against-average and a .839 save percentage in 2016-17.
Expect Peter Budaj to make this second consecutive start. He should be backed up by former first rounder Jack Campbell, according to beat reporter Jon Rosen.
Coming into this year, Budaj had made just one NHL start over the last two seasons.
There is a silver lining in all of this mess.
With Campbell being recalled from AHL Ontario, it means that Los Angeles’ minor league goalie coach, Dusty Imoo, will be the backup for his son Jonah in Ontario’s game against the San Jose Barracuda.
The New York Islanders may have won their home game against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night, but at least one player wasn’t happy with his home rink.
Cal Clutterbuck wasn’t pleased with the quality of the ice and he made it known after the game.
“From about the 5-6 minute mark of the second, you knew it was one of those nights,” Clutterbuck said, per Newsday. “You basically couldn’t string three passes together, the ice was unplayable. But we found a way.”
This is hardly a surprise and it’s not the first time a player has called out the quality of the ice in Brooklyn. Last March, Kyle Okposo mentioned that the ice was “awful”.
We know the ice is bad, but why is it so bad?
Chris Botta reports that the piping system at the Barclays Center isn’t up to NHL standards. The only solution, according to Botta, is to ‘tear up’ the floor of the arena to put in the proper pipes, which is something that should have been done during the off-season.
New York’s next home game is Sunday night against Minnesota.
Hockey players are known for their toughness, but Daniel Winnik is taking it to a whole new level.
The damage was done after Winnik blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
After the game, Caps head coach Barry Trotz said his forward had lost a piece of his ear, but it sounds like that wasn’t totally accurate.
“I wouldn’t say I lost a piece of it,” said Winnik, per the Washington Post. “I mean, it’s really chewed up, and obviously some scabs and all of that, but no visible missing piece…The puck hit basically half ear, maybe a little more ear than helmet. Very fortunate it wasn’t way worse.”
He didn’t need any stitches, but they did have to use some glue to patch him up.
To watch how his ear got “chewed up,” click here.
It doesn’t sound like the injury did enough to scare Winnik into putting on a visor or an earpiece.
“I mean, my face has been banged up a lot over the years, and I still haven’t worn a visor. I mean I’ve probably broken my nose like 15 times or something. I just can’t wear it, and the earpieces, I think you’re just used to wearing it for so long without it. I mean you take them out you’re like, ‘Why the hell was I wearing earpieces in the first place?’ But I guess this is kind of an indication on why guys do.”
Here’s a story you don’t see everyday.
Nashville Predators GM David Poile might have to scramble to put a roster together for tonight’s game against Pittsburgh because a few of his players are dealing with food poisoning.
During yesterday’s game against the Red Wings, both Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith were forced to exit early because of illness.
Now we know that the illnesses were caused by something the players ate (Poile believes it was chicken soup that caused this).
We still don’t know exactly how many players have been affected by this.
Playing two games in two nights is hard enough, but it sounds like it’ll be even tougher for the Preds tonight.
James Neal, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban are all fine, according to Brooks Bratten.
More details to come.