Detroit Red Wings travel to play the first of two in Alberta

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 02: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings follows the play thru ice shavings during an NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Little Caesars Arena on January 2, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. The Flames defeated the Red Wings 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 02: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings follows the play thru ice shavings during an NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Little Caesars Arena on January 2, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. The Flames defeated the Red Wings 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings start their three-game road trip that ends in Western Canada tonight with the first stop in Calgary to take on the powerhouse Flames.

After back to back wins against the Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Ducks the Detroit Red Wings will look to head into the all-star break on a high note.  It would be terrific if the Wings could somehow take two of three on the Canadian road trip.  First on the menu will be the talented Calgary Flames.

The Wings will also battle the other Alberta, Canada club Sunday when they take on the Oilers before heading to the West coast to lock-up with the Vancouver Canucks.  The Calgary Flames will serve as anything but favorable matchup for the Detroit Red Wings.

The Flames saw their 5 game win streak come to an end against the Buffalo Sabres two nights ago.  They were able to salvage a point though in the overtime loss to Jack Eichel and company.  The Flames dominated the third period but were unable to find paydirt in regulation.

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Former Wings assistant coach under Mike Babcock, Bill Peters has this Flames group playing like contenders.  The Flames sit atop of the Pacific division with a stellar record of 30-13-5.  The club is led by veteran captain Mark Giordano who seems to of turned back the clock.  The 35-year-old defenseman is having a career year.  He’s recorded 48 points in 46 games this season for the Flames.

The top line for the Flames is something special.  Johnny Gaudreau leads the team in points with 71 in 48 games.  Sean Monahan has recorded 25 goals and 58 points, and Matthew Tkachuk is more than just an agitator, he produces points.  He’s banged in 24 goals and 55 points to go along with his 43 penalty minutes.

That top line will be a lot for the Detroit Red Wings to handle, especially in their building on the road.  The Flames, of course, will have the opportunity to have the last change as they play at home and that top line will be licking their chops at the chance to get a handful of shifts against the Wings third pairing, Ericsson and Jensen. I must state I fear more for Ericsson than Jensen.

Jeff Blashill said before the game there is expected to be no lineup changes tonight after the back to back wins.  That means the fleet-footed youngster Filip Hronek won’t be in the lineup tonight.

Blashill is comfortable will either of his three top lines playing against that Flames top line as he trusts his team down the middle.  If he could choose, he would have Larkin’s line play them head to head but his second best option will be Glendening, AA, and Helm.

Along with good speed, the trio is sound defensively.  Helm and Glendening are both very reliable in all three zones.  Athanasiou is a tremendous talent, but his defensive abilities still lack at times.  I expect Andreas to play a few shifts tonight on Larkin’s wing as well, especially if the Wings find themselves chasing on the scoreboard.

The weak link for the Flames is veteran netminder Mike Smith.  If Detroit can come out flying and provide consistent offensive zone pressure, they have an opportunity to get ahead. Smith isn’t the same as he once was and has struggled in net all season.

The Detroit Red Wings projected lineup:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin (A) – Gustav Nyquist

Thomas Vanek – Frans Nielsen (A) – Anthony Mantha

Darren Helm – Luke Glendening – Andreas Athanasiou

Christoffer EhnJacob de La Rose – Justin Abdelkader (A)

Niklas Kronwall (A) – Mike Green

Danny DeKeyserDennis Cholowski

Jonathan EricssonNick Jensen

Jimmy Howard

Jonathan Bernier

Healthy Scratch: Martin FrkLuke Witkowski, Filip Hronek

Injuries:  Trevor Daley (lower-body), Evgeny Svechnikov (knee) Michael Rasmussen (day-to-day)

Detroit Red Wings need to retire Sergei Fedorov’s number 91. dark. Next

Game Information:

  • Detroit Red Wings 18-23-7 vs. Calgary Flames 30-13-5
  • Time: 9:00 EST
  • Location: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB, Canada
  • TV:  Fox Sports Detroit Plus, SN West, Fox Sports Go, NHL.TV, ESPN+
  • Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
  • Oddshark Odds fav: Flames -255
  • Last Ten Meetings- Flames 6-3-1