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Stop the presses.
Tonight the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings square off in what should be an epic battle of basement dwellers.
The Devils sit 28th in goal differential and 30th on a per game basis. The Red Wings, not to be outdone, are 31st in each category.
Both teams enter this game in remarkably fine form. The Devils are coming off a 5-3 home defeat, in which they conceded three goals to a Florida 4th line that featured two defensemen playing wing. A truly impressive accomplishment.
But don’t let that distract you from the fact the Red Wings have won just twice over the last 13 games and been out-scored by 26. No team has scored fewer goals, or conceded more, during that span.
Across all situations, the Red Wings and Devils claim the bottom-2 spots in Corsi For% and Scoring Chance For% over the last 13. They are playing some truly awful hockey.
The only reason New Jersey’s record is remotely respectable (5-5-3 over L13) is because Mackenzie Blackwood has stood on his head a few times.
Unfortunately for the tank, Blackwood is expected to get the nod in goal tonight. He probably won’t have much trouble vs a team icing Darren Helm (L1) and Luke Glendening (L2) in the top-6. It’d be anybody’s game if Louis Domingue were given the start, but I digress.
Here are a few notes, and things to watch for, should you wish to tune into tonight’s marquee matchup:
• Jonathan Bernier has been lights out over the last couple of months. Not lights out by ‘he plays for the Red Wings’ standards. Lights out, lights out. Bernier owns a .937 save percentage since December 10th. Thirty-nine netminders have played at least 600 minutes in that span and only Elvis Merzlikins (.947 SV%) has stopped pucks at a higher clip. The Devils aren’t exactly an offensive powerhouse so they could have trouble beating him, especially with Nico Hischier out of the lineup.
• If Jimmy Howard starts, well, it’s a much different story. He has won twice in 25 games and owns a .889 save percentage. Louis Domingue sits at .882 SV% and we know what we can expect from him on a nightly basis. Howard isn’t far off.
• The Red Wings have a few players of real quality. Anthony Mantha is the one guy to really watch out for, though. Mantha has averaged 2.49 points per 60 minutes at 5v5, which is more than stars like Sean Couturier, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Mark Stone and Alex Ovechkin. New Jersey isn’t exactly defensively sound so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mantha make noise in this game.
• Jack Hughes has points in consecutive games for the first time since early November. He’s full marks for it, too, as he picked up nine scoring chances in those games and showed real confidence with the puck on his stick. It’s hard to ask for a better matchup than Detroit – perhaps he can extend the streak tonight.
• Damon Severson enters play on a seven-game point streak. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the 2nd longest streak in the league by a player of any position. You can complain about defensive hiccups, which do happen, but at least he’s getting goals back at the other end of the rink. The same can’t be said of any other defenseman on the roster right now.
Puck drop is just after 7:00 p.m. eastern on MSG+ and FS-D.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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