NHL on NBC: Slumping Wings hope to take advantage of wounded Penguins

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NBC will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings at the Consol Energy Center at 12:30 p.m. ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Any time you suffer a 7-2 loss, it’s going to be embarrassing. However Detroit’s blowout defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday was particularly humbling given that it was the Red Wings’ fourth loss in five games.

“Disappointing. That’s a good word,” captain Henrik Zetterberg told the team’s website. “It’s too many games now where the opposing team is faster, stronger from the start. We’ve talked about it. We’ve addressed it after games but you can’t just talk about it. You’ve got to go out and show it. Enough is enough.”

Zetterberg added that he hoped the team hit rock bottom.

Playing a matinee against Pittsburgh is usually not an ideal way to snap out of a rough stretch, but the Penguins might be entering this game in a vulnerable position. Although Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff returned from a concussion on Saturday, captain Sidney Crosby (undisclosed) was scratched just before the start of play and Evgeni Malkin sustained a lower-body injury that prevented him from finishing the contest. With their two best players out, the Penguins suffered a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.

It’s not yet known if Crosby and/or Malkin will be available Sunday, but forward Andrew Ebbett has been summoned. If Pittsburgh is forced to play without one or both of its superstar forwards, then it would naturally be a significant break for Detroit.

At the same time, Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for the Penguins, so barring a last-minute surprise, they’ll at least have one of the best goaltenders of the 2014-15 campaign playing between the pipes. He has a 2.17 GAA and .924 save percentage in 53 contests this season. After Jimmy Howard’s rough start on Saturday, Detroit is expected to counter today with Petr Mrazek.

Detroit and Pittsburgh are both in very strong positions as far as the battle for a playoff berth goes. However, the Red Wings’ recent struggles have put them in danger of moving out of third place in the Atlantic Division and into a Wild Card spot, so it’s critical from a seeding perspective that they stop the bleeding. Meanwhile Pittsburgh is fighting with the New York Islanders for the second spot in the Metropolitan Division and the first round home-ice advantage that comes with it.