Detroit Red Wings: Mike Tirico will call his first ever hockey game tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 6: Mike Tirico participates in NBC Sports broadcast before the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on September 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Eagles defeat the Falcons 18-12. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 6: Mike Tirico participates in NBC Sports broadcast before the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on September 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Eagles defeat the Falcons 18-12. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks are in town as a part of NBC sports Wednesday night rivalry to take on the Detroit Red Wings.  The Wings will look for a bit of redemption tonight against the surging Hawks.

It was February 10th; the Chicago Blackhawks beat up the Detroit Red Wings to the tune of 5-2.  That meeting was in Chicago; the Wings will hope for a better fate tonight at home.  The Blackhawks started out the season on the wrong foot, and it led to General Manager Stan Bowman, yes the son of legendary Wings coach Scotty to part ways with head coach Joel Quenneville.  It took newly appointed head coach Jeremy Colliton a bit to settle in, but he’s got his team dialed in of late.

It took some time, but the Hawks have responded well.  Although they remain on the outside looking in with a record below .500, they stay only a single point out of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.  Four teams are currently tied with 59 points (Chicago, Arizona, Colorado, Vancouver).  They are all chasing the Dallas Stars (63P) and the Minnesota Wild (60P).

The log jam has teams second-guessing themselves whether or not they want to be “buyers” or “sellers” before Monday’s trade deadline.  Each of those teams would have wished they could have separated themselves from each other leading up to the deadline, but only two of the six will squeak into the postseason.

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In the previous meeting with the Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings struggled to contain the Hawks second line.  The line of Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kahun did all the damage.  The trio was each able to record three-point nights.  For the record, the Hawks are coming off a wild 8-7 victory over the Ottawa Senators, and DeBrincat had a five-point night that included a hat-trick.

When we met the hawks on the 10th Patrick Kane was in the midst of a lengthy point streak, he has been able to keep that streak alive at 18.  He also is chasing history as he’s notched an assist in each of his last 17 games.  He can pass Adam Oates if he notches an assist tonight.  Wayne Gretzky currently has the record set at 23 consecutive games with an assist; it’s something fun to watch as Kane tries to close in on the great one.

The Detroit Red Wings played an excellent game at home Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers and deserved better results.  They outshot the Flyers 38-23 and hit the pipe a couple of times.  Carter Hart was spectacular and lucky all in one.

The team needs to come out hard tonight and take it to the Blackhawks early.  There is an opportunity to win the hockey game with special teams.  The Hawks penalty kill is terrible; they are ranked dead last in the league with a mere 73% success rate.  The problem is the Detroit Red Wings power-play isn’t anything to write home about. The Wings PP ranks 25th in the NHL converting on 16% of their opportunities.

On the flip side of things the Blackhawks PP is excellent, they are a top 10 unit that is 22% success with the man advantage.  The Detroit Red Wings PK has struggled of late and indeed the entire second half of the season.  They are ranked 25th operating at 77%.  Needless to say, I expect special teams to play a significant role in the outcome of the game.

That along with the Blackhawks buying for a playoff spot while the Wings have the trade deadline looming.  It has to be hard for players to put that out of their minds at this time of the season when they know and understand their team is expected to be “sellers.”  They will need to try and put that on the back burner and focus on the game; easier said than done.

Notes: Mike Tirico is set to call his first ever hockey game tonight for NBCSN.  Although he’s better known for calling football, basketball, and Olympic coverage this is sure to be interesting.  I really enjoy basically anything that he calls, but it will still be weird hearing him behind the mic in a hockey setting. Although he wasn’t born in Michigan, he and his family have lived in the Ann Arbor area for, many, years, so it’s still kind of a homecoming for him.

This is also the first time the Wings have had a completely healthy lineup, well not counting Evgeny Svechnikov.  It’s game 61 by the way.

The Detroit Red Wings projected lineup:

Tyler BertuzziDylan Larkin (A) – Anthony Mantha

Gustav NyquistFrans Nielsen (A) – Thomas Vanek

Andreas AthanasiouLuke GlendeningDarren Helm

Michael RasmussenJacob de La RoseJustin Abdelkader (A)

Niklas Kronwall (A) – Mike Green

Danny DeKeyserNick Jensen

Trevor DaleyFilip Hronek

Jimmy Howard – 17-16-5 ( 2.80GAA/.0913SV)

Next. A look at where Gustav Nyquist could be headed. dark

Game Information:

Detroit Red Wings 23-29-8 vs. Chicago Blackhawks 25-26-9
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Location: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
TV:  NBC Sports, Fox Sports Go, NHL.TV, ESPN+
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
Oddshark Odds fav: Red Wings -130