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.
As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.
On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.
He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.
The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.
There was no call on the play.
Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.
Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.
Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.
That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:
The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.
Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.
That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.
While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.
Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.
The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.
Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim