Kicking off a two game road trip, the Red Wings are in the Mile High City for an afternoon game with the surging Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are sitting comfortably in second place in the Central Division with 60 points. Lead by superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon, who ranks fourth in the NHL in points, they’ve surrounded him with a young, up-and-coming supporting cast. They’ll be a challenging out for the 12-33-4 Red Wings.

Reminder: Today’s game will start at 3 p.m. EST, so don’t forget!

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

A possibility for today’s game is Valtteri Filppula, who is listed as questionable. Filppula left Saturday’s game early and did not return. If the veteran center isn’t available by game time, Luke Glendening will start at second line center. Frans Nielsen is expected to play, despite missing yesterday’s morning skate.

Colorado Avalanche

There is so much offensive fire power up-and-down this Colorado lineup. General manager Joe Sakic has acquired the franchise pieces needed to win a Stanley Cup. MacKinnon and Cale Makar are rated as the No. 1 and No. 2 players of their positions, respectively, according to Corsica Ratings.

To go along with this star-studded cast is quality depth. Andre Burakovsky was a smart gamble over the summer, acquired via trade for a few draft picks. Free agent signing Joonas Donskoi has also worked out quite well, although, is listed as out for today with a concussion. On defense, the second pairing of Sam Girard and Erik Johnson is rated as the fifth best defensive pairing in the NHL.

Three Thoughts

1.) Perlini freed?

Brendan Perlini hasn’t been seeing much playing time this calendar year. The last pregame I brought up Perlini’s extended stay in the press box and why he is deserving of another opportunity. With Andreas Athanasiou out until February, the Detroit forward group is missing some speed, something that Perlini has in spades.

With Filppula possibly out for today’s contest, Perlini could get his break. He skated on the third line with Darren Helm and Frans Nielsen at Sunday’s practice. If Perlini does in fact sub into the lineup, he’ll have to make the most of this opportunity.

2.) Makar’s Calder bid

To say Cale Makar’s rookie season has been sensational would be an understatement. The UMass product has taken the NHL by storm, making the case for the Norris Trophy, not just the Calder. In 40 games this season, the 21-year-old has potted 11 goals and 35 points. On Saturday he set the Avalanche franchise record for goals by a rookie defenseman, passing John-Michael Liles.

Keeping Makar in check will be a daunting task for the Red Wings. Makar’s elite skating ability and hockey IQ make him a danger all over the ice. He loves to step up and make plays with the puck. Don’t be surprised to see this future phenom light up the score sheet today.

3.) Powerless powerplay

The Red Wings had a horrid showing on the man-advantage against Florida. Despite the Panthers taking seven penalties on the night, Detroit failed to convert a single powerplay goal. In total, they only mustered up eleven shots at 5-on-4. Over their last 20 powerplay opportunities, spanning back Jan. 10, the Wings have only scored two goals. That’s not good enough.

With Colorado boasting such an explosive offense, Detroit must find a rhythm with the extra man. If not, this game could turn into a blowout.

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