Old rivals meet again as Detroit Red Wings look to avoid Avalanche

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche battles for position with Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on December 2, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 2-0. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche battles for position with Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on December 2, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 2-0. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings have dropped seven games in a row.  They will try and end the losing streak tonight against their most despised rival, the Colorado Avalanche.

It isn’t the same rivalry it was through the 1990s and early 2000s, but if you were around for those days, your stomach turns when you hear the name Colorado Avalanche.  The Detroit Red Wings who’ve lost seven in a row will look to end the streak in the mile high city tonight.

The days of Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman squaring off at center ice to open the evening and Sergei Fedorov matching Peter Forsberg stride for stride are long behind us.  Every time I think of Colorado, my mind automatically goes to Darren McCarty pummeling Claude LePuke.  Then the second thought is Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy exchanging blows.  Those were the good ole days.

Now we can look forward to the two teams stick checking each other and if we are lucky, we might see a massive collision as a couple of players accidentally crash into one another while they were really trying to avoid contact. Ok, ok–that was a stretch, but the game is played with nowhere near the same intensity.

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What’s at stake?  The Avs are battling for the second and final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.  They currently sit three points back of the Wild and a single point behind the Arizona Coyotes.

The Detroit Red Wings have lost seven in a row are in lose for Hughes mode.  The team has looked putrid for a while but really bad in the last two games.  The 8-1 loss to the Habs can’t be put on the head coach but losing to Arizona and barely possessing the puck leaves us wondering if the team has given up on Jeff Blashill.

The Wings organization and their fans will play tonight with heavy hearts.  Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay passed away yesterday and to pay tribute the team will wear a special “7” patch sewn over their hearts tonight.

Special Teams/Stats: The Detroit Red Wings power-play is mediocre at best.  Dan Bylsma runs the unit and has struggled to find any consistency with it.  They are operating at a mere 16.6% which places them 24th in the NHL.

The Avalanche are converting on 22.6% of their power-play opportunities; they are ranked 8th in the NHL.  The Avs score the 9th most goals per game in the league at 3.26 nearly a whole goal per game more than the Wings.

The teams’ defensive stats are very similar.  The Wings allow 3.35 goals per game, while the Avs yield 3.14 per contest.  Both teams PK are only killing off 77% of their Penalty kill chances which places them both in the back quarter of the league.  Some things don’t change; the Avs take the most penalty minutes on average per game allowing their opponents more than 5 PP chances a game.

Injuries: Mike Green– questionable (flu), Matt Nieto (lower-body injury), Connor Timmins (head), Vladislav Kamenev (shoulder).

Goaltending Matchup: Jonathan Bernier 6-15-4 record with a 3.37 GAA/0.897 SV% | Semyon Varlamov 18-16-9 record with a 2.83 GAA/0.911 SV%

Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

Time: 9:00 pm

How to watch: Fox Sports Detroit/Alti

Oddshark Odds: Colorado -240

Opposing Blog: Mile High Sticking

The Detroit Red Wings projected lineup:

Tyler BertuzziDylan Larkin (A) – Anthony Mantha

Luke GlendeningAndreas AthanasiouFilip Zadina

Darren HelmFrans Nielsen (A) – Thomas Vanek

Justin Abdelkader (A) – Jacob de La RoseMichael Rasmussen

Niklas Kronwall (A) – Mike Green (Questionable)

Danny DeKeyserFilip Hronek

Jonathan EricssonTrevor Daley

The Avalanche projected lineup:

Gabriel Landeskog (C) – Nathan MacKinnon (A) – Mikko Rantanen

Colin WilsonCarl Soderberg – J.T Compher

Derek Brassard – Tyson JostMatt Calvert

Alexander KerfootSheldon DriesSven Andrighetto

Samuel GirardErik Johnson (A)

Ian ColeTyson Barrie

Patrik NemethNikita Zadorov

Prediction:  The Detroit Red Wings will struggle with the Avs top line.  That top line could very well be the best top line in the NHL.  If they are not the best, they are absolutely in the top three.  They do everything well, and all three players have top-notch scoring ability.

Next. Remembering Ted Lindsay. dark

With the Wings often struggling in their own zone with coverage and zone exits I feel this could be a recipe for disaster.  The Avalanche are clawing to get into the playoffs and having dropped their last two contests to the Sharks and Ducks they should be inspired to beat up the clipped Wings tonight at home.  I think this one will end 4-2 in favor of the Avs, but I have a gut feeling Zadina will record his first career NHL goal.