The Red Wings are back in Detroit to play their final game before the holiday break. They’ll faceoff with the Pacific Division’s Arizona Coyotes. Arizona has vaulted their way all the way to the top of the Pacific Division with a 20-13-4 record. They put the hockey world on notice by acquiring star winger Taylor Hall earlier this month. Hall is just two years removed from winning the Hart Trophy.

Detroit will be shorthanded in this matchup, following the events that transpired at the end of last night’s Toronto game. Potential league discipline could also impact lineup decisions.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

Head coach Jeff Blashill has already confirmed Anthony Mantha will be out for this game. Mantha possibly suffered a concussion after being taken down by Toronto’s Jake Muzzin. Considering how hard Mantha’s head collided with the ice, don’t be surprised to see him miss several more games, even with the five-day holiday break coming up.

Tyler Bertuzzi is expected to replace Mantha on the top-line, having played with Dylan Larkin all season. The easy assumption is Andreas Athanasiou will move up to the second-line. The timeline isn’t shaping up for Athanasiou to miss the game, should the Department of Player Safety suspend him for kneeing/intent to injure Toronto’s Alexander Kerfoot. So expect Double-A to suit up tonight. It’s what will follow that will impact his availability moving forward.

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona GM John Chayka has overhauled this team’s winger core. To go along with Taylor Hall, Chayka also brought in Phil Kessel this offseason. Those two, combined with Clayton Keller form an unbelievable trio of star wingers. The center depth has been manageable, so it makes sense the run they’ve been on lately. Missing in action is Barrett Hayton. The No. 5 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft is away with Team Canada for the World Junior Championships.

On the blue-line, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a high-end top-pair defenseman. Jason Demers and Niklas Hjalmarsson are out with injury, which is why names like Aaron Ness and Jordan Oesterle draw in. Once those two return to the lineup, this Arizona team could be scary down the stretch.

Three Thoughts

1.) Larkin-Zadina connection

Filip Zadina got his first look on the first-line last night in Toronto and it was an uneventful change. Dylan Larkin played a solid individual game but the connection between the two forwards never materialized. With Tyler Bertuzzi moving back up, he could fill a more suitable role. Bertuzzi the grinder, Larkin the playmaker, and Zadina the finisher, as opposed to another finisher in Mantha.

The former second-line has been reunited with Athanasiou leaving the third-line. While these lines have the potential to work, the absence of Mantha will greatly impact the game.

2.) Hall and Yotes

Sorry, sorry, I had to squeeze the obligatory Hall and Yotes joke in here somewhere!

In two games with the Coyotes, Hall has played extremely well. The former No. 1 pick has registered an assist in both games, the first of which came in timely fashion against the Sharks. The addition of Hall has given Arizona the game breaker they’ve been after for years. Weather of not Hall re-signs this summer, he is well worth the gamble to get them over the top.

3.) Heading into the break

The Red Wings will be off for five days after the game. With holiday cheer in the air, and the emotion coming out of Toronto, they should have some much needed jump in their step tonight. Going into the break with some pride can mean a lot to a dead-last team.