Joe Louis Arena, Detroit.
The Detroit Redwings (9-5-3-21) host the Tampa Bay lightning (11-4-0-22), who are sitting first in the Atlantic division ahead of Detroit by one point. These two teams don’t see a lot of each other during the regular season, due to Detroit previously being in the West and Tampa in the East. Now they are in the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference together. They will play each other another four times. The last time they squared off Detroit won 4-2 at the Joe.
The Match Up: Tampa who are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, are coming into the Joe red hot. Riding a three game wining streak and boasting one of their best starts to a season ever. They will be a formidable foe for the Redwings. Detroit are coming off an OT loss to the Dallas Stars Thursday. In a game where a few mistakes were costly for the Wings, look to them to bounce back tonight. Detroit after finishing their Canadian road trip were 3-1 before losing to Dallas. Detroit are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games.
The Story: Tonight will see the return of Valteri Filppula to the Joe Louis Arena. Filppula was a member of the Stanley Cup winning ’08 team and played for the wings up until this season. He was traded to Tampa Bay on a five-year $28 million contract in the offseason. Henrik Zetterberg had this to say about Filppula leading into tonight’s game.
It’s special for me as we sat next to each other for many years here. It was tough to see him leave, it’s going to be strange to see him in a different uniform and play against him tonight but that’s part of the game and we’ve been through it before and we will probably go through it again.
Key Players: Tampa bay will look to Steven Stamkos and Martin St.louis to get the momentum going for the Florida team. St.Louis and Stamkos have a combined 38 pts coming into tonight’s game. Stamkos is second in goals scored and second in points overall. He is a threat anywhere on the ice with his pace and slick puck handling. St.louis on the other hand fills the void on the support player to Stamkos to get the puck to him and make the big plays moving forward. Detroit in their arsenal has team leaders Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to lead the wings offensively. Datsyuk has 7 goals, 11 assists in 18 games while Zetterberg has 8 goals, 10 assists in 18 games played. Both players putting up big points against Dallas even though it was not enough to push them across the line.
Line Changes: Head Coach mike Babcock has shuffled the lines yet again this season to try and get more support for Daniel Alfredsson. The second line will most likely look like Darren Helm (who has just come back from extended injury), Tomas Tatar and Daniel Alfredsson. Daniel Cleary moves to line four with Luke Glendening ( Grand Rapids recalled player) and Patrick Eaves.
Tampa bay will most likely stay with the lines that have been working with them.
Injuries Update: For Detroit Jonathan Ericsson is still out with a upper-body injury. New injuries include Johan Franzen (upper-body injury), Stephen Weiss (Groin), Jonas Gustavsson (neck) and Brendan Smith (Upper-body injury).
For the lightning – Mattias Ohlund (knee), Brian Lee (knee) and Tom Pyatt (broken collarbone) all are on IR.
Simon Says Picks:
Taking into account the reshuffling of the Redwings coming into tonight’s game it’s hard to see how they will click with Helm, Tatar and Alfredsson starting the second line considering they haven’t had much playing time together. I’d say look to Tampa to put a strong match up against this line up and push them to make errors. The third and fourth lines for Detroit are not strong combinations either. So I’m picking Tampa to keep their streak going in Detroit by a score of 3-2.