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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

LGD: The most winnable of games

Earlier this week, NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz put out his weekly power rankings with a fantastic tidbit about the Detroit Red Wings, whom he had listed in dead last as of Monday:

“After being systematically dismantled by Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the Red Wings enter the week having lost 10 games in a row, have one of the worst records in the NHL, and just look … bad.

The most concerning thing of all, though, is that this is not just a bad team this season, it is one of the oldest teams in the NHL, one of the most expensive teams in the NHL, and 15 of the players on the roster are under contract for next season with more than $58 million in cap space committed to them.

Even worse: Who on this team is a player that can be the centerpiece of any sort of a rebuild or offer legitimate hope for the future?”

Since then, they finally managed to stop their losing skid on Tuesday with a 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers (who have been having some moments of their own in recent weeks), then went right back into the ‘L’ column with a 1-0 shutout loss at the hands of Washington.

It’s a great day for a lopsided matchup, if you ask me!

THE LEAFS

LW C RW
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 72.4#107 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 81.7#10 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 76.3#23 RW

Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU

Rating: 74.0#41 LW

Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI

Rating: 78.1#30 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 76.0#46 RW

James van Riemsdyk
JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK

Rating: 79.5#8 LW

Tyler Bozak
TYLER BOZAK

Rating: 74.1#70 C

Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN

Rating: 71.0#75 RW

Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON
Tomas Plekanec
TOMAS PLEKANEC

Rating: 71.3#141 C

Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN

Rating: 71.6#61 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 76.8#36 LD

Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY

Rating: 72.5#114 RD

Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER

Rating: 76.3#39 LD

Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV

Rating: 72.8#99 RD

Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 73.7#72 LD

Roman Polak
ROMAN POLAK

Rating: 70.1#220 RD

Now that Matthews is back, this matchup is even more lopsided – which didn’t seem possible, and could make for some reasonably unwatchable hockey.

It’s good to see #34 back, and he kicked off his return after a month-long absence with a goal, four shots, and a pretty decent night in the faceoff circle. Against a top line boasting Tyler Bertuzzi, he should only continue his return to contributing excellence in tonight’s game.

The real player to watch, though, has undoubtedly been James van Riemsdyk. At this point, he’s only fourth on the team in scoring – but over the last few weeks, he’s been completely unstoppable. He’s playing for a contract, and it shows.

THE RED WINGS

LW C RW
Tyler Bertuzzi
TYLER BERTUZZI

Rating: 71.1#85 LW

Henrik Zetterberg
HENRIK ZETTERBERG

Rating: 74.4#37 C

Gustav Nyquist
GUSTAV NYQUIST

Rating: 74.1#74 RW

Darren Helm
DARREN HELM

Rating: 70.7#159 LW

Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN

Rating: 75.1#61 C

Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA

Rating: 74.0#35 RW

Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU

Rating: 74.4#66 LW

Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN

Rating: 72.6#103 C

Justin Abdelkader
JUSTIN ABDELKADER

Rating: 70.1#107 RW

Martin Frk
MARTIN FRK

Rating: 71.8#59 LW

Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING

Rating: 69.5#191 C

Evgeny Svechnikov
EVGENY SVECHNIKOV

Rating: 72.7#58 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON

Rating: 69.7#228 LD

Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY

Rating: 72.3#117 RD

Dan DeKeyser
DAN DEKEYSER

Rating: 70.6#201 LD

Nick Jensen
NICK JENSEN

Rating: 71.0#185 RD

Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL

Rating: 71.2#180 LD

Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI

Rating: 67.9#115 RD

Honestly, what is there to even say about this?

Henrik Zetterberg is centering Tyler Bertuzzi and Gustav Nyquist, who has a whopping 34 points this year. Danny DeKeyser and his never-ending contract are on the second pairing (woof), while Niklas Kronwall’s age shows with his bottom-pairing position. Oh, and Mike Green is out with neck surgery, so that’s also a thing.

STARTING GOALIES

We already know that Andersen is going to be the starter tonight, which means another game of seeing just how many times he can appear in a season before he finally collapses on the ice. So far, so good, and hopefully this game doesn’t do much to change that.

Across the ice, Jimmy Howard – who is more or less Detroit’s only goaltender right now – will get the nod. And while he had been playing well for the team for a stretch, his .909 save percentage pretty much sums up what the Red Wings look like this year.

NOTES

  • While the Red Wings look to avoid dropping 12 of 13 games here down the back stretch, Toronto will be looking to set a franchise record with a 13th straight home victory – no pressure or anything, though. At the very worst, they’ll take it easy against a Detroit team looking to throw hits and desperately get another point or two out of their season, but likely it’s going to be a record-setting night for the home team at the Air Canada Centre.
  • It’s time to face off against an old friend again, as Mike Babcock can now comfortably look back at his old club as they sit right where the Leafs were when he was brought on board to turn things around. The year before he made his coaching debut in Toronto, the Leafs went into an absolute free-fall to go from a contending playoff spot in early December to the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference by the end of the year – largely on the merit of a now-familiar stretch for Detroit when they went 1-11-1 in January. Now, the Leafs are where the Red Wings were when Babcock left, sitting in a playoff position – but whereas Detroit had been on the precipice of their current plummet, Toronto is just beginning. Has to feel pretty good.
  • After their last game, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg had some harsh words about ‘learning to play the right way’ for the younger guys on the team. Which, whether he’s right or not, absolutely shows just how frustrated the team is right now; if he isn’t able to control his comments about the players that will likely be on the team when he’s finally gone, that says everything you need to know about how the entire team is feeling right now.

    LGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PINT

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