The New York Islanders are a pretty good team that sometimes — particularly lately — has trouble finishing, and the Detroit Red Wings are a pretty bad team that seems to have every possible thing go awry this season.
With the Islanders coming off a humbling thumping last night by a rival they’d beaten more often than not in recent years, they need a bounce back tonight. The Red Wings would seem to be the perfect foil.
Insert your “It’s a TRAP” memes here.
The Red Wings are at the bottom of the league by a clear 12 points. That’s like, *early 1980s-bad.
(For you young’ns, there was a bemusing irony when the Wings started branding themselves as HOCKEYTOWN and plastered that phrase at center ice. This happened once they got good again in the ‘90s, aided by ex-Islanders exec Jimmy Devellano, and their fans — many transplants and escapees — filled not only Detroit’s building but several other arenas as visitors. But people who remember the miserable Red Wings squads and shocking attendance of the early ‘80s knew. We knew: Hockey teams draw well and create buzz when they’re good, and create depression and attendance vacuums when they’re soul-suckingly bad. That’s just how it goes. The rest is just typical sports tribalism. #notallfanbases)
For Detroit, Jimmy Howard has been struggling mightily, to the point he is only lightly used lately. To the point you’re getting quotes like “I know I can do it.” He’ll be in net tonight against the Island That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
Jimmy Howard has played five of DET's last 20 games. In that 244 minutes DET have allowed 21 goals, with Howard sporting a .852 save % (.878 at 5v5).— Travis Flynn (@NDRedEagle) January 14, 2020
Howard was expected to let in 11.6 goals, but he allowed 21.
He looks to turn things around against Isles tonight.
Barry Trotz confirmed this morning that Casey Cizikas, who I — in a fit of “BUT HE’S A WARRIOR” mythology — figured would play last night, will in fact miss his second game in a row after taking a puck to the right there.
Otherwise, we know Thomas Greiss will be in net for the second half of this back-to-back. We don’t know if either of the other two lineup swap possibilities will happen.
Check out the expected Red Wings lineup at Winging It In Motown — including confirmation that ol’ friend Frans Nielsen will play at his old backhanding ground.