Morning Skate: Red Wings vs Lightning – Preview, How to Watch – Winging It In Motown

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Time: 12:30 PM EST
Place: Little Caesars Arena
TV: BSDET, BSSUN
Radio: WXYT-97.1 FM
Lightning Blog: Raw Charge
With a couple of games under their belt since the Trade Deadline on Monday, the Red Wings revamped roster continues to churn. Jeff Blashill indicated Greiss will be out through both weekend games after being knocked out of Thursday night’s game against the Islanders. As a result Nedeljkovic is expected to get the start with perhaps Pickard getting the callup as backup and potential starter for Sunday.
In practice yesterday, Bertuzzi was back playing on the top line with Larkin and Raymond. Filip Zadina is expected to return to the lineup after sitting out sick on Thursday. But as he re-enters the mix, Michael Rasmussen missed practice, although Blashill noted he was ill and still expected to play today. Still out day to day was Givani Smith. This resulted in quite a bit of shuffling. Veleno was paired with Vrana and Gagner with the first two making for an intriguing pair. It’ll be interesting to see what Veleno does with Vrana. Gagner could potentially be playing in a spot tabbed for Rasmussen if he ends up being able to go. The other anticipated change up front is the pending return of Mitchell Stephens who has been out most of the year. He seemed to be fully available for yesterday’s practice and despite Detroit being able to ice 12 forwards without him, he looked primed to jump back in after his lengthy stay on IR. Stephens is a good skater and was serving as a decent 4th line center before going down. It looked like one of Hirose or Pearson could be the odd man out. If Rasmussen ends up playing it could bump the other, or possibly one of Erne or Gagner. Still lots to be decided at forward before puck drop.
On the blue line, from all accounts the pairing were mashed up all practice long, while Staal did not take part. He is questionable for today’s game, so it is likely a game time decision for him given the 12:30pm puck drop. If Staal can’t go it’ll give Juolevi a chance to get back in.
Detroit’s opponent tonight are the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa is 2-0 against the Wings this season winning 7-6 in October and 3-1 earlier in March. But the two time defending Cup champions are in the midst of a bit of a skid going 4-6-0 in their last 10 games including losing 6 of their last 8. The slump has been enough to drop the Bolts into a wildcard position for the first time since the beginning of the season. It could be the wakeup call they need to get ready for the playoffs. The Wings have the chance to push the Bolts into an extended losing streak, with a loss today it would be their longest losing streak in a long time at four in a row. While it may seem like an opportune time to take them on, it’s a pretty good bet Tampa finds the throttle today after likely being chewed out after Thursday’s loss to Boston.
Tampa is of course loaded up and down the lineup. Newly acquired Brandon Hagel has slotted in on their second line playing wing to Steven Stamkos. Their other deadline acquisition Nick Paul has landed on the third line with Cirelli and Colton. On defense, Tampa has their full arsenal ready with the likes of Hedman, Sergachev, and McDonagh carrying their pairing on the left side. Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start today. The elite netminder was struggling uncharacteristically early in March but seems to have returned to form recently despite the losses. He hasn’t had a SV% below .923 in his last 5 games.

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