The Columbus Blue Jackets are back on home ice tonight to take on the Detroit Red Wings.
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The Red Wings have suffered a tragic loss over the past 24 hours with the death of their owner, Mike Ilitch, at the age of 87. The long-time owner brought the Red Wings to the promise land, being at helm of four Stanley Cup victories, and helping management develop players the right way. Ilitch has seen his hockey team succeed in making the postseason for 25 seasons, being every year but the first ten in which he owned the team. Ilitch will forever be remembered as Detroit and bringing the bringing hockey to its great city.
The Red Wings last played on Thursday, suffering a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. Andreas Athansiou scored two of his team’s three goals. Also, Jonathan Ericsson suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the matchup.
Going with losing players, the Wings also lost Russian defenseman Alexy Marchenko to the waiver wire. The Toronto Maple Leafs claimed him off waivers. Mike Babcock probably has influence in the decision being the former head coach in Detroit. What did his departure mean for the Wings? Their backend continues to get weaker, as they expect AHL call-ups in Ryan Sproul and Nick Jensen to fill slots to get the Wings to the postseason. For the Jackets, this could mean more offensive chances against a weaker team.
Detroit also recalled Jimmy Howard from the minors. He was with the Grand Rapids Griffins on a conditioning stint as he suffered a knee injury in late December in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. So far this season, Howard has a 5-7-1 record in 17 games played, with a 1.96 goals against average and a 0.934 save percentage (93.4%). What do these stats mean for the Jackets? They need to find a way to break through on Howard as he has some of the top goalie stats in the league.
Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist – Henrik Zetterberg – Anthony Mantha
Tomas Tatar – Frans Nielsen, – Dylan Larkin
Andreas Athanasiou – Darren Helm – Thomas Vanek
Riley Sheahan – Luke Glendening – Justin Abdelkader
Danny DeKeyser – Mike Green
Niklas Kronwall – Nick Jensen
Brendan Smith – Ryan Sproul
Scartched: Steve Ott, Xaiver Ouellet, Jimmy Howard
Injured: Johan Franzen, Joe Vitale, Jonathan Ericsson, Tyler Bertuzzi,
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Saad—Alex Wennberg—Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner—Brandon Dubinsky—Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert—William Karlsson—Josh Anderson
Scott Hartnell—Lukas Sedlak—Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski—Seth Jones
Jack Johnson— Markus Nutivarra
Scott Harrington— Ryan Murray
Scratched: Oliver Bjorkstrand
Injured: David Savard, David Clarkson
Players to Watch
Niklas Kronwall. The veteran Swedish defenseman is now highly responsible to cover the losses of the weakening Detroit defense, as the mileage and injuries continue to impact the veteran defenseman. In 30 games this season, he has only five assists and a -2 rating.
Alex Wennberg. Going with the theme of Swedes, the Jackets’ number one center happens to be one. Wennberg has had a breakout year in a top role in Columbus, including leading the team in assists with 34. The Swede is second on the team in points with 44; the only player with more is Cam Atkinson. Wennberg’s production has to keep up in order to keep the Jackets in the post-season efforts.
Enjoy the games tonight…
More to come…
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