Just like I predicted, the Chicago Blackhawks used their return to the United Center to regroup and beat the division-rival St. Louis Blues with a two-goal shutout.
The game-winning goal was not scored until 35:26 had ticked off the clock, as Third Star of the Game Artemi Panarin scored off assists from Second Star Patrick Kane (his 43rd helper of the season) and Michal Rozsival. The one-goal lead held into the second intermission.
The lone insurance goal was scored on the power play, only 4:56 after resuming play. Andrew Shaw was responsible, assisted by Marian Hossa (his 17th helper of the season) and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
First Star Corey Crawford improves his record to 28-11-2 after saving all 25 shots he faced, while Brian Elliott’s falls to 10-6-5 after saving 23 of 25 (92%).
The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 48-20-9, favoring the home squad by 40 points over the roadies.
After only four games played yesterday, the NHL picks back up the action today with six games. The action gets started at 7 p.m. eastern with three games (Detroit at the New York Islanders, Boston at Philadelphia [TVAS] and Montréal at Columbus [RDS]), followed half an hour later by Buffalo at the New York Rangers (NBCSN). Finally, this evening’s co-nightcaps drop the puck at 8:30 p.m. eastern (Calgary at Dallas and Arizona at Minnesota).
None of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals, but two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Detroit at New York and Arizona at Minnesota).
In addition to watching a Western Conference game yesterday, I think the Wings–Isles game will be more competitive, so let’s focus in on the action in the Barclays Center.
Tonight’s game marks Detroit‘s fourth appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 2-1-0 record. Their most recent showing in the series was a 4-1 loss to the Stars on November 8. New York has been featured twice before tonight’s game, and are 1-1-0 in such games. Their most recent in the series was also a 4-1 loss at home, but this one was to the Capitals on January 7.
The 24-16-8 Detroit Red Wings currently occupy third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, and have used an above-average defense to get them there.
Even with Danny DeKeyser’s 65 blocks, the Red Wings have allowed 1444 shots to reach 17-9-4 Petr Mrazek and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for only 122 goals against, 12th-least in the league. Although the defense as a whole has been above-average, the penalty kill still has room to improve, killing 80.65% of opposing attempts for 30 power play goals against. To make matters worse, the kill still has yet to score their first short-handed goal of the season.
Standout rookie Dylan Larkin may have 127 shots to his credit, but the Wings as a whole only have 1378 on the season, of which 8.5% have found the back of the net for 118 goals (led by Larkin’s 15 tallies), seventh-fewest in the NHL. Part of the problem for the lack of offense has been the below-average power play, where the Wings have scored only 17.11% for 26 power play goals, led by Gustav Nyquist’s six extra-man tallies.
The Wings‘ most recent game played was a 4-3 loss to the Ducks on Saturday. A Detroit win tonight propels them past Tampa Bay for second place in the division, while a loss runs the chance of them falling behind Boston and into a wildcard position.
The 25-15-6 New York Islanders currently occupy third place in the Metropolitan Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference, using a top-10 offense paired with an above-average defense. The Isles are certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Led by Calvin de Haan’s 117 blocks, the Isles have allowed only 1389 shots to reach 12-8-4 Jaroslav Halak and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.5% for only 114 goals against, sixth-fewest in the league. The strongest facet of the defense has been the penalty kill, which has killed 87.86% of opposing opportunities, allowing only 17 goals. To make matters worse for Detroit, New York also has four shorties to their credit, led by Cal Clutterbuck’s two tallies.
Led by Captain John Tavares’ 136 shots, New York has fired a solid 1393 shots, with 9% finding the back of the net for 128 goals (led by Brock Nelson’s 18 tallies), 13th-most in the league. The biggest deficiency has been the power play, where the Isles have only scored on 17.78% for 24 goals (led by Frans Nielsen’s four extra-man tallies). To make matters worse, the power play has given up five short-handed goals, two more than the league average.
New York won their most recent game, 5-2 victory in Ottawa. A win tonight increases their lead over fourth-place New Jersey to three points, and has the potential to propel them past the team from Manhattan in the division.
This will be the first of three meetings between these squads this season. Last year, New York won the series 2-1-0.
Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Detroit‘s Larkin (+23 [fourth-best in the league]) and Mrazek (.932 save percentage [tied for third-best in the league] and 2.03 GAA [tied for fifth-best in the league]) & New York‘s Thomas Greiss (.927 save percentage [tied for eighth-best in the league]), should he play.
Detroit is a peculiar team to figure out, as they always seem to do just enough to win a lot of their games. That being said, I think New York, especially in Brooklyn, will be too much to handle.