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Catch Hell Blues: Blackhawks at Red Wings Preview

Can they beat the Red Wings? I mean, can they?

Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks fights to get off a shot against Alex Nedeljkovic and Marc Staal of the Detroit Red Wings
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Somehow the Red Wings have a better record than the Blackhawks do this season and more exciting young players. Remember when Detroit was the team that couldn’t win the draft lottery despite being one of the clearly worst teams in the league? Good, gone times.

Anyway, these two former divisional rivals will play each other on Wednesday night in Detroit.

The Red Wings still enter on a losing streak, having been beaten by the Predators and Stars in recent outings after beating the Sabres in overtime. However, it’s not like the Blackhawks are entering on the hottest of streaks either, as they’ve lost four in a row.

The Red Wings are better than the Blackhawks in terms of quality but not in terms of quantity, as they’re one of the few teams in the league worse than the Blackhawks in Corsi but one of the many better in expected goal share. This was never a contending season for the Red Wings, however, who are still building their team.

The Wings are led by Dylan Larkin, who has 37 points in 37 games (19 goals, 18 assists). Tyler Bertuzzi is second on the team with 35 points, down just one assist from Larkin. However, it’s their trio of rookies who are their most impressive assets, as Lucas Raymond has 11 goals and 22 assists in 42 games and Moritz Seider, a defenseman, has three goals and 23 assists in 42 games.

In net, Alex Nedeljkovic — who has started the most games for the Red Wings — was up for the Calder last season but remains technically a rookie this year. Nedeljkovic has a .915 save percentage and 3.58 goals saved above expected. Nedeljkovic is probably the best rookie goaltender this season.

However, the Red Wings still play a poor system behind head coach Jeff Blashill, allowing the second-most high-danger chances per 60 at 5-on-5 while generating the 21st most. The Red Wings allow the 10th most expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5 and generate just the 24th most.

In other words, the Red Wings have some bright spots that may be brighter than the Blackhawks bright spots’ — especially in terms of players 20 and younger and in terms of long-term goaltending — but neither team is a world-beater.

This is when a former rivalry might get fun again, as this could look to be a competitive contest between the two sides. The Red Wings are back in the East, meaning the Blackhawks see them relatively little — in fact, this is their last game this season — but that doesn’t mean they can’t make it count.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Red Wings

46.66% (26th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 46.14% (29th)

45.44% (28th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 47.31% (23rd)

2.29 (30th) — Goals per game — 2.67 (24th)

3.24 (22nd) — Goals against per game — 3.29 (23rd)

49.2% (20th) — Faceoffs — 50.8% (11th)

18.8% (18th) — Power play — 14.8% (29th)

75.6% (26th) — Penalty kill — 78.8% (19th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Hagel — Strome — Kane

DeBrincat — Toews — Lafferty

Kubalik — Dach — Kurashev

Borgström — Carpenter — Entwistle

McCabe — S. Jones

de Haan — Murphy

C. Jones — Gustafsson

Fleury

Söderbloom

Red Wings

Namestnikov — Larkin — Raymond

Fabbri — Suter — Bertuzzi

Zadina — Rasmussen — Erne

Smith — Veleno — Gagner

DeKeyser — Seider

Leddy — Lindstrom

Staal — Hronek

Nedeljkovic

Pickard

How to watch

When: 6:30 p.m. CT

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV: TNT