Detroit Red Wings head down highway 401 to take on the Leafs

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 06: Detroit Red Wings Center Dylan Larkin (71) celebrates the overtime winning goal as Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Garret Sparks (40) looks back at the puck during the regular season NHL game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on December 6, 2018 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 06: Detroit Red Wings Center Dylan Larkin (71) celebrates the overtime winning goal as Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Garret Sparks (40) looks back at the puck during the regular season NHL game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on December 6, 2018 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings head to Toronto to take on the Leafs.  This game regrettably has the potential to be a blowout, let us tell you about it…

The Detroit Red Wings are limping there way down highway 401 today as they prepare to enter a Lion’s den.  (Insert Lion’s pun), I want to… but I will not.  The Toronto Maple Leafs are rolling along; they are second only to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

William Nylander played in his first game of the season last time these two teams met, which saw the Wings upset the Leafs inside of Scotia Bank Place.  Nylander is back in the thick of things for the Leafs but has yet to produce.  Through his first 8 games, he’s recorded just a pair of assists and is a minus 1, playing only 15 minutes a night on average.

The lack of production probably leaves a sour taste in the mouth of management, but when you are away from the game for a couple of months, it definitely takes a while to get rolling.  Those first 8 games are basically Nylander’s training camp/preseason.  He is due to start producing; I just hope it isn’t tonight.

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No need to panic if you are Mike Babcock, you have the luxury of rolling out John Tavares who has 23 goals, 40 points and is a plus 10 in 36 games so far this season.  They also have a kid named Auston Matthews who has a whopping 19 goals, 33 points and a plus 12 through 22 games.  If that isn’t enough, Mitch Marner is having an absolute career year. He has 50 points, led by 38 assists.  He was who Tavares wanted to play with because of his playmaking ability.

We haven’t even talked about Freddy Anderson; he is a wall in net most nights for the Leafs.  He is 20-9-1-1 with a 2.50GAA, .923% Save Percentage.  Staggering numbers but he played yesterday for the Leafs against the Rangers.  Garrett Sparks will get a rare start tonight for them, he was in goal and looked shaky when the Wings played in Toronto last.

Morgan Rielly is also having a career year for the Leafs.  He will be in the Norris Trophy conversation at the conclusion of the season.  Rielly has achieved 12 goals, 42 points and is a plus 22 in his first 36 games.  He’s also playing nearly 23 minutes a night.

If it seems like I am a bit jealous it is because I am.  It makes me sick to my stomach seeing the Leafs; Lightning play the way they have while the Detroit Red Wings struggle.  I mean Morgan Rielly makes 5 million per season, that’s 750k more than Jonathan Ericsson.  Are you kidding me?  Granted the Leafs struggled a long time before they have gotten this good, and had some draft lottery luck, but I still can’t help but be envious of this group.

It will be key tonight for the Detroit Red Wings to get another stellar performance in goal from Bernier.  The former Leaf is expected to get the nod.  He should be prepared to see somewhere around 40-45 shots.  The Leafs have the third-best shooting percentage in the NHL.  They score on 12% of their shots.  They are second in the league averaging 3.75 goals per game.

In comparison, the Detroit Red Wings score on 9.8% of their shots, but they only average 28.5 a night which ranks them 28th in the league.  Detroit is 26th in the NHL averaging 2.78 goals per game.  The offense has struggled all season, the power-play has woken up a bit of late, and they will need to convert tonight with some of their odd-man advantages.  The Wings PP is running 18.8%, 18th in the league.

The Wings PK is spectacular on the road and terrible at home.  The Leafs are deadly on the PP, so the Wings need to find a way to stay out of the box.  Toronto takes the least amount of penalties in the league.  They average less than 7 minutes per game in the box.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone; Mike Babcock hates fighting.  The Wings have been in a lot of scraps this season which drives up the penalty minutes; they average 9.4 minutes in the sin bin a night.

It is an ugly projected lineup tonight for the Wings.  The injuries have mounted, it is shaping up to be a defensive zone struggle as the Leafs are expected to have the ice tilted heavily in the Wings zone.  Detroit needs to be very physical tonight to make the Leafs somewhat uncomfortable to have any type of chance.  I just don’t see this one ending well, I hate to say this but looking at this lineup it has “blowout” written all over it. Look at the long list of injuries…

Injures; Andreas Athanasiou (upper-body), Anthony Mantha ( Hand), Darren Helm ( Upper-body), Danny DeKeyser(hand), Evgeny Svechnikov (knee) Mike Green (lower-body)

The Detroit Red Wings expected lineup:

Justin Abdelkader (A) – Dylan Larkin (A) – Gustav Nyquist

Luke GlendeningFrans Nielsen (A) – Tyler Bertuzzi

Thomas VanekWade MeganMartin Frk

Michael RasmussenJacob de La RoseChristoffer Ehn

Dennis Cholowski  – Trevor Daley

Niklas Kronwall (A) – Nick Jensen

Jonathan Ericsson – Filip Hronek

Jonathan Bernier

Jimmy Howard

Next. The NHL needs to retire the Shootout. dark

Game Information:

Detroit Red Wings 15-16-5 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 24-10-2
Time: 7:30 EST
Location: Scotia Bank Arena, Toronto, ON
TV:  Fox Sports Detroit, Sportsnet, Fox Sports Go, NHL.TV, ESPN+
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
OddsShark Odds- Fav. Leafs -300