The Detroit Red Wings would really like to put Saturday’s season-opening loss to the St. Louis Blues behind them, and tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets is their best chance to move forward. Columbus got a 3-2 shootout win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, while the Red Wings fell to the Blues by a 6-0 score.
The Red Wings failed to generate much of anything in the way of offense Saturday night, getting just 14 shots on goal. They will need to shoot early and often to have a chance to win tonight, and coach Mike Babcock will no doubt want to see some production from his top line of Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg. Jimmy Howard will start again tonight, and will try to rebound from a poor performance against the Blues, which saw him pulled after allowing five goals. Jonas Gustavsson is out with a groin injury, so the Wings have called up Tom McCollum from AHL Grand Rapids to serve as Howard’s backup. Injuries are taking quite a toll on the Wings, as they will be without Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm and Jan Mursak tonight, and could also be without defensemen Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson. Only six defensemen played in the loss to the Blues, so any injuries on the back end could end up creating even bigger problems for the Wings.
The Blue Jackets got goals from Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno on Saturday, as well as a 32-save performance from Sergei Bobrovsky. Anisimov and Derick Brassard converted their shootout attempts, while Bobrbrovsky turned aside four of the five attempts he faced. Expect to see young forwards Cam Atkinson and Ryan Johansen factor into tonight’s game; both were off to a great start in the AHL during the lockout and combined for seven shots on Saturday. Bobrovsky likely gets another start between the pipes tonight, with Steve Mason available in relief.
Tonight’s game is an important one for both teams. The Red Wings need to show that Saturday’s loss was a fluke and they are still a contending team, while the Blue Jackets want to continue to show that life goes on after Rick Nash and that they may be the Central Division’s sleeper team this season.