The Columbus Blue Jackets make their first trip to Joe Louis Arena this season on Friday night when they clash with the Detroit Red Wings. The Blue Jackets hope to continue their recent dominance of Detroit, as they are 10-3-2 against the Red Wings in their last 15 games with them, including 4-1-1 in their last six trips to the Motor City.
The Blue Jackets enter Friday’s contest on a roll. They’ve earned points in 19 of their 24 games, including six straight (5-0-1) and 16 of their past 18 games. They haven’t played since Monday when they defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-1. After allowing an early power-play goal, the Jackets scored four unanswered goals on route to victory. Sam Gagner had a hand in all four goals. Detroit spotted Winnipeg a 3-1 lead Tuesday night before scoring three answered goals to force overtime. The game went to a shootout, where Thomas Vanek and Henrik Zetterberg helped get Detroit the extra point. The Red Wings play their next five games at home.
Injuries, or lack thereof, have been the early story for both teams. Columbus has gone relatively unscathed in the injury department. Outside of David Clarkson on the long-term injury list, they’ve stayed healthy. Matt Calvert is back from his recent upper-body injury. Detroit, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. They lead the league in man-games lost coming into Friday.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings
Joe Louis Arena – 7:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and 97.1 The Fan.
Columbus Blue Jackets: 15-5-4, 34 points.
Road Record: 6-2-3
Hot Players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Gagner
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (on LTIR)
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert-Lukas Sedlak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Ryan Murray-Markus Nutivaara
Detroit Red Wings: 13-11-3, 29 points.
Home Record: 6-6-2
Hot Players: Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg
Key Injuries: Tyler Bertuzzi (Foot), Brendan Smith (Knee), Alexey Marchenko (Upper-Body), Darren Helm (Upper-Body), Johan Franzen (Concussion), Justin Abdelkader (MCL Sprain), Joe Vitale (Concussion).
Tomas Tatar-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha
Dylan Larkin-Frans Nielsen-Luke Glendening
Gustav Nyqvist-Riley Sheahan-Thomas Vanek
Drew Miller-Steve Ott-Tomas Jurco (Andreas Athanasiou expected to play)
Danny DeKeyser-Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson-Xavier Ouellet
Niklas Kronwall-Brian Lashoff
Petr Mrazek (Expected Starter)
1)The Blue Jackets will play their seventh set of back-to-back games starting Friday in Detroit. In the front-end of those games, Columbus is 5-1-0, outscoring their opponents 25-12. In total, the Blue Jackets play a league-high 19 sets of back-to-back games. They return home to Nationwide Arena afterward for a Saturday date with the New York Islanders.
2)The Blue Jackets enter Friday’s game ranked third in both goals for and goals against. They average 3.17 goals per game. Only the New York Rangers and Philadelphia have scored more. The Jackets average 2.17 goals against per game. Only Minnesota and San José have allowed less.
3)Detroit comes into Friday on a roll of their own. The Red Wings have just one regulation loss in their last eight games, earning a 5-1-2 record in the process. However they only have nine regulation/overtime wins this season, tied for third-fewest in the league. Where they’ve made up some ground is the shootout. The Red Wings enter Friday a perfect 4-0 in the shootout. Conversely, the Blue Jackets are 1-1 in the skills competition.
4)The Blue Jackets sent defenseman Dalton Prout to AHL Cleveland for a conditioning stint on Thursday. Given the depth chart, Prout would only see action if there is an injury. The Blue Jackets have carried eight defensemen all season, primarily because seven and eight (Prout and Scott Harrington) both need waivers to be sent to Cleveland regularly.
5)The Red Wings could get speedster Andreas Athanasiou back after he’s missed the team’s last 12 games due to a sprained left knee suffered on November 10th in a game against Vancouver. General Manager Ken Holland confirmed Athanasiou was ready to return and will play Friday night. Petr Mrazek worked in the starter’s crease during practice and is expected to start against the Blue Jackets.
6)This is the last season for the Red Wings inside the famous Joe Louis Arena. They will play in the new Little Caesars Arena starting next season. The Blue Jackets play in Detroit twice this season, with their final game there scheduled for February 7. Defenseman Zach Werenski is from Grosse Point, Michigan and played his college hockey at Michigan. He plays his first professional game at the Joe Friday night after spending time away from the team due to the passing of his grandfather. Expect many family and friends to cheer Zach on.
Coach John Tortorella as has been custom this season has canceled the Blue Jackets morning skate. The reason for this is that he doesn’t want the players to put their gear on more than once a day. It also ensures an extra level of rest before games. Thus far it’s worked. For Detroit to have success Friday, they need to start quickly and stay out of the box. The Jackets enter the game with the league’s best power play. Whoever wins the special teams battle will have the inside track to two points on Friday night.