Tonight in Detroit will be the last time the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Red Wings in the regular season.
Tonight, for the third time in just 24 games, the Columbus Blue Jackets will play the Detroit Red Wings. That’s 12.5% of the entire Jackets season so far!
The Jackets and Wings have split their two previous matchups with Columbus winning on opening night in Detroit 3-2 in overtime. The Red Wings then handed the Jackets a 5-3 defeat in Nationwide Arena on October 30th.
Since their last matchup though the Jackets have gone from one game over .500 to five games over. They seem to have the power play working at a competent level and Sergei Bobrovsky is playing well in net.
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Lansing Murphy (LM): The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Wings last played on October 30th. What has been the biggest storyline in Detroit since then?
Bob Heyrman (BH): The Detroit Red Wings have played some outstanding hockey since they’ve last met with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Wings have been able to win eight of their last twelve games, that is including the previous meeting with the Jackets.
The Wings have been led by Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin. The man we like to call Double-A has been on a tear recording nine points over his last eight games. Dylan Larkin has five points over his previous eight appearances, but that doesn’t do him justice with the level of play he has produced.
Larkin is often matched up with the opposition’s top line playing them head to head. Larks has been playing 22-24 minutes any given night by far leading the Red Wings forwards in ice-time. Jimmy Howard has provided a surprising effort in goal this season. The trio has led the Wings of late and will try to continue to pace the Wings as the season moves along.
LM: Trade action has begun to heat up around the NHL. Do you see the wings getting involved anytime soon and if so, who is on the trading block?
BH: As the trade talks start to heat up the Detroit Red Wings will become sellers once again. They have a few “rental” pieces that will become available to teams looking to buy. The Wings won’t be able to provide a superstar or anything but still, have some valuable chips that could fit the right team.
Gustav Nyquist is thriving in the “Henrik Zetterberg” role. He has been much more creative in the offensive zone as more of a facilitator rather than a sniper. He will be an excellent rental for a team looking for a second/third line forward. He has a full no-trade clause, so if he doesn’t want to move, he won’t have too.
Jimmy Howard has really surprised me with his play this season. To be honest, I didn’t think Howie had this type of play left in him. He has been a bright spot on the team this season often being the best Red Wings player on the ice most evenings. I could see a contender calling if injuries start to occur as Howard is also in the final year of his contract and could provide excellent stability in goal for someone who may be looking.
LM: How do you see tonight’s game playing out?
BH: It is hard to predict which team will show up to start the game tonight. Sometimes the team doesn’t begin to play good hockey until late in the second period or even the third. If they come out skating as they have in the past two contests, they will make it tough on Columbus.
Although they lost their last two games, they played complete games. The penalty kill let them down Saturday night against Buffalo, allowing a pair of PP goals. It was odd because for much of the season the Wings PK has been a top 10 unit league-wide. Detroit will lean on Jimmy Howard heavily tonight looking to get back on the winning side of things.
Thanks again to Bob for sitting down with us. Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 not 7:00 because Detroit is weird. Join us over on Twitter for some fun during the game!