SAN JOSE — In the Red Wings’ dominant, 3-0 win against the Sharks about ten weeks ago, one aspect of Detroit’s game stood out above all others.
“Speed,” San Jose center Logan Couture said. “They’re a quick team. They skated around us. It could have been a lot worse than 3-0.”
In addition to the scoreboard, the Red Wings controlled possession (57.5 FF%) and scoring chances (54.84%) in their win in late October. The win proved to be a bit of an aberration for this iteration of the Red Wings.
This season, Detroit will not be confused with the possession juggernauts of their past. They sit 23rd in score-adjusted Fenwick, according to Puck on Net, and seventh in the Atlantic Division, five points out of a divisional spot and six out of the last wild card.
Part of that is due to injuries. Detroit has three players on long-term injured reserve, and five players on injured reserve. It’s forced second-year head coach Jeff Blashill to ice a vastly different roster than we’ve seen from the Winged Wheel in recent seasons.
The Red Wings have played a little better of late. They won their last game in Los Angeles after jumping out to a 3-0 first period lead, and got contributions from some of their new-look depth.
“You look at their lineup, and they’re a deep enough organization where you wouldn’t know they had injuries,” DeBoer said. “Their fourth line looks good. Their six defensemen look good. That’s a deep team. So, [the injuries] don’t really bear on what we’re doing.”
Boedker back as Schlemko, Vlasic still out
Mikkel Boedker skated with Tommy Wingels and Melker Karlsson this morning, and will draw back into the Sharks’ lineup. As far as DeBoer was concerned, Boedker did not need to spend any more time in the press box.
“He deserves to get back in there,” DeBoer said. “It was kind of a message sent, but like I said when we sat him, in the ten games leading up to Christmas, he was our best player a lot of nights. He doesn’t deserve to sit more than one game.”
The free-agent signing is still sitting on eight points in 38 games, and hasn’t scored a goal in a little over two months. He’s not played much with Karlsson or Wingels at even strength this season, but he thinks the trio can mesh, he said.
“They’re good players,” Boedker said. “If we can play well with the puck and make good things happen, I think we’ll have a good game.”
The Sharks’ other big offseason acquisition, David Schlemko, will not play tonight. Neither will Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who skated with Schlemko after practice under the supervision of Sharks assistant coaches Steve Spott and Bob Boughner. The two just need “a little more time” out of the lineup, DeBoer said.
No Need for Heed...yet
With those injuries, the Sharks recalled defenseman Tim Heed for the second time in three days. For the second time in three days, Heed will not draw into the lineup, DeBoer said.
That means third-year defenseman Mirco Mueller will play in his third consecutive game on the third pairing alongside Dylan DeMelo. The Sharks did discuss playing Heed tonight, according to DeBoer, but ultimately decided to stick with Mueller.
“We think Mirco deserves a chance to play again here, but there’s people knocking on the door for that opportunity too, and Mirco needs to understand that,” DeBoer said.
In two games with the Sharks this season, Mueller has been about an even possession player (48.3 CF% and 50.0 FF%, per Hockey Reference), and has averaged 13:25 in ice time. Heed, meanwhile, is second among AHL defensemen this season in scoring with 31 points.
Martin Jones was the first goaltender off of the ice this morning, and will start tonight. Here’s what the Sharks’ lineup will look like tonight, based on the lines this morning:
Timo Meier-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi-Logan Couture-Kevin Labanc
Patrick Marleau-Chris Tierney-Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker-Tommy Wingels-Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon-Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller-Dylan DeMelo
Scratches: Tim Heed, Micheal Haley, David Schlemko, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (LTIR)
Quote of the Day
Logan Couture, on the importance of avoiding a four-game losing streak tonight:
It’s a big game. Three in a row, we don’t want to go any further. That’s when you start slipping in the division. Big game for us.