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Behind Enemy Lines: Oh Hey, Hockeytown

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Carolina’s final stop on the road trip is a visit with Detroit at the Joe.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings started this season slow, losing their first two games on the road to the Lightning and Panthers, but have won four straight and sit tied with Tampa Bay for second place in the Atlantic Division behind the conference-leading Canadiens. Leading the team offensively thus far have been Thomas Vanek, Mike Green (??), and Gustav Nyquist with three goals and four assists each.

On the back end, the Wings again feature Green, as well as Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, and Danny DeKeyser. Goaltender Petr Mrazek has taken four out of the six starts, but he and Jimmy Howard share the same amount of wins (2).

Detroit’s offense has started strong, scoring 20 goals in six games as a team, which is good for a share of 5th in the league. Their team defense has not been as stellar, but remains around the top third of the league having allowed 15 goals.

The Red Wings typically play a strong home game, particularly this year since they will be saying goodbye to Joe Louis Arena at the end of the season, but dropped both home games against the Canes at the start of last season. Those two losses ended up giving the Hurricanes the season series win, and Carolina will be looking to continue to be the thorn in the side of the Red Wings this year.

Storylines

  • These two teams met in the Stanley Cup Final 14 years ago, with Detroit coming out on top. Since then, the Wings have made the playoffs every year, and increased their playoff berth streak to 25 years while the Hurricanes have made it just twice. For the Canes to get back to the postseason, the road may run through Detroit in the wild card standings. A win tonight could be a huge two points in April.
  • Detroit’s penalty kill will need to improve before tomorrow night, as they currently sit at 24th in the league in that category and they will be facing Carolina’s 4th ranked power play.
  • The Hurricanes will be wise to pay some extra attention to Thomas Vanek, who seems to have rediscovered his impressive scoring touch in his new home. As mentioned above, he shares the lead in points for the Wings and has been looking rejuvenated through the first 6 games.
  • Former Red Wings Andrej Nestrasil and Martin Frk will be in the building to face their previous team. Nestrasil has played against Detroit multiple times already, but if Frk figures into the lineup, this will be his first time playing against his first team.
  • Who starts in goal? Mrazek has seen the lion’s share of starts, but Howard has yet to lose this season. Both are fighting for the starting job, so the Hurricanes can likely expect to face a strong performance in net.