Preview: Toronto at Detroit
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, October 9, 2015
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Mike Babcock guided the Detroit Red Wings to 10 straight postseason appearances and won a Stanley Cup in 2008 before taking on a difficult challenge in the offseason. The first-year coach of the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs goes after victory No. 1 in the second game with his new team against the host Red Wings on Friday.
The Maple Leafs had a 37-30 advantage in shots but dropped a 3-1 decision to Montreal at home in Wednesday’s season opener. “We had lots of chances to score,” Babcock told reporters. “In the third period, I didn’t like that when we started pushing, we got a little carried away at times, but I thought we did a lot of good things structurally.” While the Maple Leafs are moving forward with baby steps, the Red Wings are ready to roll in their season opener with new coach Jeff Blashill at the helm. Detroit begins the campaign with injury concerns, including star center Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), but has high expectations with a solid group of young players looking to make the next step.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TVA, RSN (Toronto), FSN Detroit
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (0-1-0): James van Riemsdyk scored the team’s only goal in its opener, tallying with the man advantage while Toronto gave up just one power-play opportunity. Jonathan Bernier allowed a goal on the first shot he faced Wednesday but was solid thereafter and is expected to start Friday while backup James Reimer goes against Ottawa on Saturday. Free-agent signee Matt Hunwick has earned a spot beside captain Dion Phaneuf on defense while veteran blue-liner Roman Polak was a healthy scratch in the opener.
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (2014-15: 43-25-14, 3RD IN ATLANTIC): Datsyuk, forward Darren Helm (shoulder, concussion) and defenseman Danny DeKeyser (foot) were placed on injured reserve to start the season. Captain Henrik Zetterberg (66 points) led the team in scoring last season and fellow veteran forward Brad Richards has been added, but nine of the key forwards for the Red Wings are age 26 or younger. Center Dylan Larkin, 19, is expected to make his NHL debut in a prominent role and Jimmy Howard is slated to start in goal Friday.
1. Detroit D Mike Green will make his debut for the team after recording 360 points in 575 games with Washington.
2. Toronto D Jake Gardiner led the team in ice time in the season opener (21:28) but finished with a minus-2 rating.
3. The Maple Leafs earned points in four of their five meetings (3-1-1) with Detroit last season.
PREDICTION: Red Wings 5, Maple Leafs 1