Tonight is the Red Wings’ final preseason game, the back-end of a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs. We still don’t have any indication of what Detroit’s lineup is going to be, but given that most of the starters were rested last night, there is a decent chance that we could see the big boys in this one. All that said, here is a rough outline of three things to watch tonight:
1.) The final tuneup before the season
Being the last preseason game, this is the final opportunity for the Red Wings to test anything out before the regular season begins. Due to an incredibly late first game (the season begins Wednesday but Detroit doesn’t play its first game until Saturday), there is still a full week before the team will play again, but there’s something to be said for in-game experience. Whether it’s on special teams or during 5v5 play, if Jeff Blashill & Co. want to make any changes, this would be the last time to try them out before the games start to matter.
2.) Bubble Watch
Again, we don’t know who’s going to be in the lineup, but if any of Michael Rasmussen, Dennis Cholowski, Filip Zadina, Madison Bowey, and Evgeny Svechnikov are in the lineup, those players are immediately ones to watch. The Red Wings have some open spots in both the forward corps and on defense for younger players to make a push, and who takes advantage has been one of the storylines of the preseason. Svechnikov had 2 goals last night, and Rasmussen had two on Thursday against the Blues. All of these players are on the bubble of Detroit and Grand Rapids and tonight could be a factor as to whether they make the NHL out of camp or not.
3.) Division Rivalry
Unlike many of the preseason games, tonight’s game is an intra-division matchup, with a team some have projected as among the NHL’s elite. The Red Wings had surprising success against the Maple Leafs last year and will look to do the same this season. The preseason offers an opportunity to get a scouting report on a team that Detroit will see several times this year and so it constitutes something to watch tonight.