The Detroit Red Wings will start Jimmy Howard opposite Tuukka Rask when the Wings host the Boston Bruins this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/NESN/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/97.1 FM). The morning skates for both teams weren’t particularly revealing, though Darren Helm is apparently a “game-time decision” for the Wings.
If you missed it, Wings coach Jeff Blashill explained why he’s starting Howard tonight, speaking with MLive’s Ansar Khan…
“Petr played really well a few games in a row; I’m going to go to Howie here tonight,” coach Jeff Blashill said following an optional morning skate. “I got belief in both of them. We’re going to need both to be real good down the stretch. We need elite goaltending and we’re going to need that from both of them.”
Howard’s last win was on Jan. 5 vs. Florida (4-2). He suffered a lower-body injury late in the game but finished. He missed the next game against Tampa Bay.
Since then Howard has gone 0-4, with a 4.62 goals-against average and .861 save percentage. He lasted only 8:47 in his most recent stint, a 5-1 loss to Chicago on Jan. 25, when he allowed three goals on nine shots.
“Not every player scores every night and not every goalie is going to stop it every night, and I just think sometimes you get in a groove one way or the other,” Blashill said. “He’s had a chance here to go to work with (goaltending coach) Jeff Salajko. Both he and Petr work real hard at their game.
“I don’t see anything from a technical standpoint that will preclude him from having lots of success tonight. But every game takes a life of its own. Hopefully the puck hits hit early and sticks to him and he feels good and he has a great game for us.”
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan shifted gears, speaking with Dylan Larkin about the desperation with which the Red Wings approach tonight’s game…
“There’s a sense of urgency,” Larkin said. “We know the situation we’re in and we’ve been here last year, and we don’t want the same result (missing the playoffs).”
As well as Patrice Bergeron as something of a role model for Dylan Larkin:
“When you have centermen that are as complete as those guys have been in their careers, and as good as Bergeron is right now, that’s big-time winning hockey,” Blashill said “Larks and I talked about that, that Bergeron is a great example of a guy to really emulate, about how he doesn’t give up anything but creates a ton.
“It’s a hard thing to do, but that’s why that team is winning as much as they are, when you have a centerman who plays a complete game. That’s how you win games.”
Larkin talked about Bergeron’s strengths after Tuesday’s morning skate, and the different areas that stand out when Larkin watches the veteran Bruin play.
“He’s great on faceoffs and his positioning is probably one of the best of any center in the NHL,” Larkin said. “You don’t notice him, but it seems he never stops skating the entire shift, he’s always moving, and he’s always in the right spot. I’m sure his wingers love playing with him because he makes players around him better.”
NHL.com’s Dave Hogg has penned a game preview:
The Boston Bruins will try to continue their hot streak when they play the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday.
The Bruins are 7-1-0 in their past eight games and have earned at least one point in 20 of the past 21 (16-1-4). Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask is 18-0-2 in his past 21 games (20 starts) with a .942 save percentage and a 1.59 goals-against average.
Detroit is coming off a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers after having won its previous two games. Jimmy Howard will start against Boston ahead of Petr Mrazek, who is 4-1-1 in his past seven games (six starts). Howard has lost his last four starts, during which he has a save percentage of .861.
Players to watch: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) in his past 14 games. Bergeron leads Boston with 22 goals is third with 44 points.
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser has scored three goals in his past two games, including two in the loss at Florida.
Hogg also issued prospective Bruins and Red Wings lineups:
Bruins projected lineup
Update: BostonBruins.com’s Eric Russo penned a game-day Bruins article:
The last time the Bruins were here they needed a last-minute comeback to capture an overtime victory over the Red Wings courtesy of Brad Marchand.
Boston will be looking to improve its start this time around, though they’ll have to do it without Marchand, who is serving the final game of his five-game suspension for elbowing.
“We had a poor start, we didn’t generate much early,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of his team’s 3-2 OT win on Dec. 13. “I thought we mismanaged the puck a lot, they were on us…just watching their last game, too, with Florida, when Florida turned it over they were right back at you. They’ve got a good team that can counterattack very well.
“We’ve done a good job with managing the puck. Our starts, we’re progressively getting better. I think two weeks ago was an issue, but we’re working our way out of that.”
The Bruins will also once again be without Kevan Miller (upper-body), Noel Acciari (lower-body), and Anders Bjork (upper-body). None of them traveled with the team to Detroit, with Cassidy saying all three would be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
With Acciari sidelined, Austin Czarnik will be filling in on Boston’s fourth line for the second straight game. The Detroit native will be playing in his hometown for the first time in a regular season contest.
“It’s always exciting,” said Czarnik, who has slid in on the right wing alongside Frank Vatrano and Sean Kuraly. “It will be the first game that I’m playing in the regular season here. It’s going to be a fun time tonight, will be fun to play in front of family and friends here. Just looking forward to it.”
Here’s the Bruins’ game-day video:
The #NHLBruins will be in search of their third straight victory tonight when they take on the Red Wings in Detroit.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 6, 2018
Here’s the Wings’ projected lineup:
**Helm is a game-time decision. pic.twitter.com/ocT5GzGo7n
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 6, 2018
Update #2: Of note from Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff:
The Bruins are in town Tuesday to face the Wings at Little Caesars Arena, and when Detroit coach Jeff Blashill looks as Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, Boston’s top two centers, he sees Zetterberg and Datsyuk in their primes.
“I just think Bergeron’s got to be one of the best players in the league right now,” Blashill told Detroitredwings.com. “He plays a two-way game, never gets scored on and produces a lot of offense. That’s why that team is as good as they are. We talk about it, that’s what Zetterberg and Datsyuk did here for years. When you have centermen that are as complete as those guys have been in their careers, and as good as Bergeron is right now, that’s big-time winning hockey. They’ve got a lot of other good players, but when you have centermen that play – and David Krejci’s a heck of a player, too, and he plays a complete game. So you’ve got two guys up the middle that play real complete games. That’s how you win games.”
Likewise, though they accomplish their means in an entirely opposite fashion, Blashill sees Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who will play his 1400th NHL game on Tuesday, as filling a parallel role on the Boston defense to what Lidstrom delivered all those years in Detroit.
“They’re similar type players in a sense of the impact they’ve had on their teams over a long period of time,” Blashill said. “They’re both two of the best players at their position to play. Certainly Chara has done it differently, has a different skill set.
“I also know first-hand with having (former Boston assistant coach) Doug Houda on staff, the approach that he takes and how important it is for him to continue to play and find every way possible to be the best player he can as he continues to move up in age. I think it’s unreal. When I watch their team play, if you take him out of the lineup, that’s a huge loss. That says a ton for somebody that’s played as many games as he has, played as many hard games as he has and is at at the age he is. He’s not a replaceable part.”