Movin' on to Motown; Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings preview
Maybe the Red Wings don't need to rebuild, as they're off to a pretty solid start this season. However, the Lightning find themselves riding a high-scoring winning streak while their division rivals in Detroit are trying to navigate a rough stretch highlighted by injuries to key players.
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
When: 6 PM EST | Tickets: Check availability
Media: Sun Sports (cable) | 970 AM (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Winging It In Motown, Abel to Yzerman
The Detroit Red Wings are bad at rebuilding.
See, the way it's supposed to work is a team builds itself up and earns a finite period of sustained success, a window of opportunity so to speak. How long that window stays open varies but when it closes, the team is supposed to be terrible for a period of years, taking their lumps as aging stars fade away. Then, hopefully, after a number of miserable years of collecting high draft choices, some of them develop into pretty good NHLers, the team learns to win again and another window opens up.
The Red Wings are ignoring a huge chunk of that, specifically the part where your team stinks for years and years. Last season, in what was supposed to be the Red Wings first year of rebuilding, they went 39-28-15 and made the playoffs. This season, they're off to a 7-3-4 start, good enough for third place in the Atlantic Division. Although last season saw Detroit's lowest division finish (4th) since 1989-90, coincidentally the last season they failed to qualify for the postseason, it looks like Detroit has no intention of rebuilding in the traditional manner.
The Red Wings are comprised of crusty veterans like Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk (one of the NHL's Three Stars of the Week ending November 2), Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, somewhat less-crusty vets like Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Stephen Weiss along with youngsters like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan. They're off to a solid start but injuries to Datsyuk, Jonas Gustavsson and Weiss along with Anthony Mantha and Daniel Alfredsson have contributed to something of a rough patch recently. The Red Wings came off their most recent road trip to Buffalo, Ottawa and the Rangers with only two of a possible six points, which came via an overtime win against New York.
Nyquist leads the Wings in goals scored with 9 while Zetterberg leads in assists (12) and scoring with 16 total points. Jimmy Howard does the heavy lifting in net and with Gustavsson out, he's backed up by Petr Mrazek.
As mentioned above, Detroit's Datsyuk, Gustavsson, Weiss, Mantha and Alfredsson are all out with injuries. For the Lightning, Alex Killorn is close to being ready to return but nobody's complaining about his replacement Cedric Paquette, with three goals in his last two games.
Steven Stamkos is the Lightning's goals-scored leader with 8. Tyler Johnson's 13 assists and 17 points lead the team in those categories. Evgeni Nabokov got the start in Columbus last night so Ben Bishop will be in net tonight.
The Lightning come in to play the second game of a back-to-back after a 7-4 win in Columbus last night, their fifth victory in a row, it's also the seven of their last eight and eight of ten. The game is the second of a four-game homestand for the Wings, the first being a 4-2 win over New Jersey on Friday. They are 5-2-3 in their past 10 games . The Lightning have scored 27 goals in the last five games.
As far as special teams is concerned, Detroit's power play is converting at 16.4% (20th in the NHL) and killing penalties at a rate of 89.6% (2nd). Tampa Bay is currently at 27.1% (3rd) and 78.6% (20th) respectively.
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