The Blues take on the Red Wings in perhaps their final game at Joe Louis Arena tonight. The Blues hope to end their era at the Joe and their current road trip on a high note. The Blues are 4-0 on their current road trip with the trip having vaulted them into 3rd place in the Central division.
The Red Winds occupy the basement of the Atlantic division, the fewest points in the Eastern conference and are tied for the 3rd fewest points in the league. They play the same on the road and at home posting identical 11-12-5 records. The thing they have excelled at the most this season is the shootout, going 6-0 in the shootout. Part of their struggles can be tied to their league’s worst power play and their 5th worst goals against. Even with all of this, the Red Wings are 4-2-2 in their last 8 home games though it will get harder as Gustav Nyquist is expected to be suspended for at least 5 games today.
Henrik Zetterberg leads the team with 41 points though Thomas Vanek has a higher points per game ratio and more goals (14). Anthony Mantha is just behind those two in points per game with 29 points in 41 games. Mike Green leads the defense with 10 goals and 26 points in 48 games.
The Red Wings have a number of players who have fared well against the Blues. Zetterberg has 68 points in 64 games while Green has 8 points in 9 games. Petr Mrazek, who will get the start, has posted an impressive 95.1% save percentage while going 4-1 against the Blues.
As the Blues play their final game at the Joe, they will be without the services of Paul Stastny, Robby Fabbri and Kyle Brodziak, all of whom are on injured reserve. Wade Megan has been recalled from the Wolves and looks to be centering the 4th line tonight.
I didn’t get to watch much of Saturday’s game but Patrik Berglund appeared to have another solid effort, getting the hat trick with an empty net goal. The effort gave Berglund 6 goals in the last 14 days (6 games), tying him for the lead league in that span with Viktor Arvidsson. Berglund is on pace for 25 goals this season. We’ll talk more about the Berglund and the trade deadline at a later date but it’s not inconceivable that the Blues will listen to offers for the puck possession center.
In looking at the box score, the few low lights of the 4th road win in a row are the play of Kenny Agostino, Robert Bortuzzo and Dmitrij Jaskin. Jaskin and Agostino played less than all forwards not name Ryan Reaves and failed to generate a shot while Bortuzzo was more than 5 minutes behind the next lowest defenseman.
Not many Blues have enjoyed tremendous success against the Red Wings. Kevin Shattenkirk has done the most, posting 15 points in 21 games. Vladimir Tarasenko has 7 points in 10 games. On the flip side, Jaden Schwartz looks to end his drought against the Wings, having been held pointless in 10 games.
Mike Yeo is rolling the dice with Carter Hutton against the Wings, choosing to save Allen for tomorrow’s home game against the Canucks. Hutton has only played 13 minutes against the Red Wings but let 4 goals in during that span on only 5 shots for a terrible 25% save percentage. Of course, Hutton has been a lot better than Allen on the road this season. More interesting is that Hutton’s numbers are a lot better than Allen’s against the Canucks, much like Allen’s are a lot better than Hutton’s against the Wings. It would appear that Yeo is going against the statistics. We’ll see how that works out.
With Stastny, Robby Fabbri and Kyle Brodziak on injured reserve, the lineup is in a flux but expect it to start like this:
Steen – Lehtera – Tarasenko
Schwartz – Berglund – Perron
Agostino – Barbarshev – Paajarvi
Upshall – Megan – Reaves
Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo
Gunnarsson – Shattenkirk
Edmundson – Parayko
A Tribute in the Blues last game at the Joe
The Detroit Red Wings announced they will be wearing a Mr. I patch on the jersey in memory of the recently departed long time Detroit Red Wing and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. You can find a picture of it here.
In a fitting tribute to the final game at the Joe, the Red Wings ticket office made a special ticket which will no doubt raise the blood pressure of a few long time Blues fans. See the ticket here. If anyone has a ticket stub from tonight’s game that they would be willing to give up, let me know. I’d love to add such an epic stub to our ongoing collection.
It’s a great day for hockey.
Fellow Hockeybuzz bloggers Nashville Predator's Paul McCann, Winnipeg Jet's Peter Tessier and Minnesota Wild's Dan Wallace have generously agreed to a friendly charity wager. We were hoping to do the whole division but don't have it fully represented yet. The blogger whose team finishes the highest the standings at the end of the year gets to pick a charity to whom the others donate in their name.