Centennial Classic Preview: Detroit Red Wings (16-16-4) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (16-12-7)

Can you believe we’ve had one hundred years of NHL hockey? Well, technically it will be one hundred years on December 19 of 2017, but the start of the new year is good enough for us! The NHL sure has come a long way since the first five teams back in 1917, including the creation of your very own Detroit Red Wings! Detroit has had a less than successful 2016, currently finding themselves six points out of third place in the Atlantic and eight points out of a wildcard spot. Toronto has had slightly more success, but also find themselves out of the playoffs by three points. Both teams need to start 2017 off right with a crucial win, as it may prove to be a pivotal point for these Original Six foes. Though some are painful to look at, let’s see how these teams stack up statistically.

Detroit Red Wings
League Standing: 24th place with 36 points
Eastern Conference Standing: 13th
Atlantic Division Standing: 7th (second to last)
Goals Scored Average: 2.47 per game, with 89 goals tied for 23rd
Goals Against Average: 2.83 per game, with 102 goals allowed ranking 16th
Power Play: 12.0%, lowest percentage in the league with only 15 PPG on 125 opportunities
Penalty Kill: 82.0%, 14th ranked percentage with 20 PPG allowed on 111 opportunities

Toronto Maple Leafs
League Standing: 17th place with 39 points
Eastern Conference Standing: 10th
Atlantic Division Standing: 5th
Goals Scored Average: 2.94 per game, with 103 goals ranking 11th
Goals Allowed Average: 2.83 per game, with 99 goals allowed ranking 14th
Power Play: 20.0%, 12th ranked percentage with 22 PPG on 110 opportunities
Penalty Kill: 84.9%, 6th ranked percentage with 18 PPG allowed on 119 opportunities

All of us know how frustrating these last few weeks have been for the Red Wings, but we can’t dwell on the past. With the new year we need to look forward to improving the team, and the Centennial Classic can be the first step in this process. A win over Toronto and a red hot Auston Matthews would be a great first step in regaining some confidence for this team, but it won’t solve everything. Amid all the coaching controversies and poor player performance, this team needs to dig deep and start playing with passion again. Jared Coreau seems to be leading the charge forward, as he may have grabbed the start for the Centennial over a slumping Mrazek. Vanek, Zetterberg, and Nielson continue to lead the way in points, and they’ll have to continue to contribute to get this team back on track. The kids are starting to make some strives offensively though, with Mantha improving every game and Larkin being the team’s only double digit goal scorer. Defensively the addition of Brendan Smith will help bring some stability, though the Wings still need further reinforcements to get back on track. Unfortunately Abdelkader, Marchenko, and Green will not be able to participate, while Sheahan is a game time decision. Forward lines and defensive pairings will be announced tomorrow per Coach Blashill.  The Maple Leafs enter the contest with a four game winning streak, but the players lack experience with games in an outdoor setting and contests at this large of a scale. That inexperience could be the key to a Red Wings victory, as many of our players have participated in at least one outdoor game. Coach Blashill needs to take advantage of this early in the game, and exploit the Leafs early. Last season the Wings drew a lot of energy from their Stadium Series victory over Colorado, and I hope that they can do the same in the Centennial Classic. Let’s Go Red Wings!

 

 

Stats obtained from the NHL website at:
https://www.nhl.com/

Picture Credit to the Detroit Red Wings Twitter Account:
https://twitter.com/DetroitRedWings

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