Detroit Red Wings conclude lengthy road trip in Buffalo

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 9: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings faces off against Jack Eichel #9 of the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game on February 9, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 9: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings faces off against Jack Eichel #9 of the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game on February 9, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings have enjoyed a successful West coast road trip with wins in both Vegas, and San Jose will look to finish on a high note in Buffalo.

The term “tanking” doesn’t seem to be in the Detroit Red Wings vocabulary.  The team is playing well away from home with a few clipped feathers.  A few is an understatement, with Mike Green, Trevor Daley, Justin Abdelkader, Thomas Vanek, Jacob de La Rose, and Michael Rasmussen recently added to the list.

The number of injuries pops off, but it has allowed the Detroit Red Wings to give an audition to players like Matt Puempel, Taro Hirose who is excelling and Ryan Kuffner along with the big physical presence on the blueline with Dylan McIlrath.  The team has also recalled Martin Frk on an emergency basis for tonight’s game in case Glendening or Mantha are unable to go tonight in Buffalo.

Taro Hirose has been an excellent find for the Wings; he’s managed to start his career with a four-game point streak adding an assist in each of his first four NHL games.  He’s embracing the opportunity to play with the Detroit Red Wings, understanding this is his audition to make the opening night roster next season.  He was the Big Ten’s player of the year out of Michigan State where he recorded 15 goals and added 35 assists.

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Michael Rasmussen has been lost for the remainder of the season, and that hurts, although there are only 6 games remaining he’s seen himself playing in a bottom-six forward role all season and has struggled to elevate past playing fourth line minutes in recent weeks.  He’s a player that needs to develop before others start to pass him on the depth chart.  He’s only 19-years old, so there is plenty of time but the way Hirose has come on and the skill Zadina showed during his nine-game audition makes a guy wonder what Rasmussen’s role will be moving forward.

I’m intrigued to see if Hirose can keep his point streak alive and I’m excited to see Matt Pumpel once again hoping he can break through with his first goal as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou provide a solid one-two punch down the middle of the line-up while players such as Hirose, Mantha and Bertuzzi have become very reliable complimentary players over the last few games. Both Larkin (28) and Athanasiou (29) are knocking on the door of accomplishing a 30 goal season, a feat no Wing has completed since 2009.  Although the Detroit Red Wings future is bright, they are still hoping for some lottery luck in the next couple of weeks as they hope to add another difference, franchise-changing talent.

The Buffalo Sabres are reeling of late having lost five straight games.  They will be pushing hard tonight at home to find themselves a win and limit their recent misfortunes at five.  Jack Eichel paces the Sabres offense with 75 points on the season.

The Detroit Red Wings projected lineup:

Tyler BertuzziDylan LarkinAnthony Mantha

Taro Hirose – Andreas AthanasiouLuke Glendening

Matt PuempelFrans NielsenDarren Helm

Ryan KuffnerChristoffer EhnLuke Witkowski

Danny DeKeyserFilip Hronek

Niklas KronwallMadison Bowey

Jonathan Ericsson Dylan Mcllrath

Jimmy Howard

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Gameday Details:

What: Detroit Red Wings 28-38-10 vs. Buffalo Sabres 31-36-9

When: 7:00 pm

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo NY

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, MSG Buffalo, ESPN+, NHL.tv

Listen: 97.1 The Ticket

Oddshark Odds: Sabres -155

Previous ten meetings: Sabres 7-2-0-1