Detroit Red Wings hope to avoid crying the Blues in Missouri

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 28: St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) skates during a regular season NHL hockey game between the St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings on November 28, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 28: St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) skates during a regular season NHL hockey game between the St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings on November 28, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings are in St. Louis tonight to take on the playoff-hopeful Blues.  The Blues earlier in the season were well out of the playoff picture. A strong second half, have them right in the playoff mix.

The Blues currently sit third in the Central division in the Western Conference.  The way the “new” playoff format is set up doesn’t exactly matter, but the Blues would be the 6th seed in the old style.  If the playoffs were to start today, the Blues would lock-up with their in division rival, Nashville Predators.  The Detroit Red Wings, on the other hand, are excited the weather is starting to break so they can hit the links.

The Western Conference Central Division is tight.  Dallas sits in the first wildcard position and is only two points behind the Blues.  The Coyotes, yes the Coyotes are sitting four points behind St. Louis in the second wildcard in the West.  Minnesota, Colorado, and Chicago remain in striking distance on the outside looking in.

What we are saying here is the Blues still have very meaningful games left.  These next nine regular season games are essentially the start to their playoff season.  Detroit although coming off a win in New York have their eyes set on the offseason and the April 9th NHL Draft Lottery.

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The Blues are paced offensively by center Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko.  Tarasenko has taken a bit of a step back this season although he remains a constant scoring threat every time he’s on the ice.  Tarasenko’s scored 28 goals (11 on the PP) and added 30 helpers totaling 58 points through 68 games this season.  O’Reilly leads the Blues in many categories; 69 points, 43 assists, 20 power-play points and a plus 22 rating.

The Detroit Red Wings basically rely on Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and whoever happens to be in net to win games.  Larkin leads the Wings with 62 points, 35 assists, and 7 power-play goals through 67 games.  Andreas Athanasiou has excelled playing down the middle of the lineup since just after the trade deadline.  He’s a thoroughbred that can’t wait to leave the stables to head out for a sprint.

Athanasiou is a streaky scorer, and at the moment he’s hot.  His two-goal outburst in New York puts him atop the Detroit Red Wings in goals sitting at 28 on the season, one more than Dylan Larkin.  Over his last five games, he’s recorded 5 goals and is a plus 3.  He’s recorded 4 goals over his previous two games.  Detroit may have found their much needed second-line scoring center of the future.

The Wings are incredibly banged up.  It seems they will take anyone who can skate backwards at the moment to help play defense.  Trevor Daley and Mike Green are done for the season.  Jonathan Ericsson is day-to-day and won’t play tonight.  Recently recalled defender Libor Sulak is battling the flu and won’t go tonight.  Justin Abdelkader and Jacob de La Rose are both out.

The Detroit Red Wings projected lineup:

Darren HelmDylan LarkinAnthony Mantha

Tyler BertuzziAndreas AthanasiouLuke Glendening

Thomas VanekFrans NielsenTaro Hirose

Christoffer EhnMichael RasmussenRyan Kuffner

Danny DeKeyserFilip Hronek

Niklas KronwallMadison Bowey

Brian LashoffLuke Witkowski

Jonathan Bernier

dark. Next. Why does Jeff Blashill hate Michael Rasmussen?

Gameday Details:

What: Detroit Red Wings at St. Louis Blues

When: 8:00 pm

Where: Enterprise Arena, St. Louis MO

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN+, NHL.tv

Listen: 97.1 The Ticket

Oddshark Odds: Blues -370