Who: Detroit Red Wings (18-19-6, 42 points, 5th place Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (27-10-6, 60 points, 2nd place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh (ATTSN-PT) locally in the Western PA viewing area, Bally Sports Detroit for the away market, ESPN+
Opponent Track: Detroit lost a back-and-forth wild 8-5 game to Chicago on Wednesday night in their last game out. And if you throw out two wins over Buffalo, the Red Wings are just 0-4-3 in the last three weeks against everyone else.
Pens Path Ahead: Up next for the Pens is a visit from the Kings on Sunday afternoon. Following that, the suddenly struggling Capitals come to Pittsburgh next Tuesday (February 1st) to wrap up the six game home-stand for the Pens, as well as their pre-All Star Game schedule, with the team inactive until February 8th.
Hidden Stat: The Red Wings are 13-7-3 at home this season and just 5-12-3 on the road.
Season Series: This is the first PIT/DET game of the season, and the first regular season meeting in almost two years (Feb 16, 2020). The Red Wings will be back in the ‘Burgh on March 27th, and then the Pens go to Motor City on March 27th for their only visit to Detroit this season on April 23rd
SBN Counterpart Blog: Check out Winging it in Motown where you can wing it in your town and catch up on the Red Wings.
—Like most building teams, the Red Wings are very young. CapFriendly says the 13 forwards currently on the roster average 24.9 years old, and that’s with 32-year old Sam Gagner as an outlier considering there’s only one other healthy forward (Vlad Namestnikov, 29) that is north of 26 years old.
—But, that said, a lot of their top players (Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, the injured Jakub Vrana) are already in the 25-26 year old range. Are these the guys to build around if it’s going to take a few more years to really get it in gear? They will be out of their absolute offensive primes by then, if aging curves say they aren’t already.
Advanced stats at a glance
The Red Wings definitely bottomed out in 2019-20 (with a disastrous 17-49-5 record), and since then have been slowly but surely improving in their process, and also in their place in the standings. They still have miles to go, but the time has allowed some old and bad contracts to expire and some new higher picks to work their way up to NHL caliber. They’re still far from being a major factor, but moving in the right direction at least.
Tuesday Game Lines
Vladislav Namestnikov - Dylan Larkin - Lucas Raymond
Robby Fabbri - Pius Suter - Tyler Bertuzzi
Adam Erne - Michael Rasmussen - Filip Zadina
Givani Smith - Joe Veleno- Sam Gagner
Jordan Oesterle / Moritz Seider
Marc Staal / Filip Hronek
Nick Leddy / Gustav Lindstrom
Goalies: Alex Nedeljokvic (typical backup: Calvin Pickard)
Scratches: Danny DeKeyser, Thomas Greiss (working back from COVID protocol), Gemel Smith (conditioning loan)
COVID Protocol: empty
IR: Jakub Vrana, Carter Rowney, Troy Stetcher, Riley Barber, Mitchell Stephens
—Two very young players, rookies in fact, in prominent roles are Raymond and Seider. Both are drawing Calder trophy buzz — and for good reason. Seider was drafted sixth overall in 2019 and Raymond went fourth in 2020, the Red Wings have not had the best lottery luck but have still really maximized the value of their top picks lately from when they have been picking up high.
And now for the Pens..
Projected Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Evan Rodrigues
Zach Aston-Reese - Brian Boyle - Dominik Simon
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith
Scratches: Mark Friedman, Radim Zohorna
COVID Protocol: none!
IR: Drew O’Connor (week-to-week, collapsed lung), Jason Zucker (week-to-week, core surgery), Louis Domingue, Teddy Blueger (broken jaw, out 6-8 weeks)
Advanced stats at a glance
The Penguins are a top-10 team in the league in every metric, save the power play and finishing. For the charts on the right, it is encouraging to see that dotted line (xGF%) go back up this season to elite territory of 55ish%. On the bottom, the Pens’ defense has been good again limiting the number of goals that they give up.
Milestone and streak watch
- Evgeni Malkin is on a six game point streak
- Sidney Crosby is three goals away from 500 in his illustrious career.
- Jake Guentzel is three points away from 300 career points.