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Preview: Islanders vs. Red Wings

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (25-15-6) VS. DETROIT RED WINGS (24-16-8)

7 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDERWNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM

FIVE THINGS:

1. ISLES VS. WINGS:

This is the first meeting between the Islanders and Red Wings this season. The Islanders won the season series 2-1-0 last season. The last outing was a wild one, as the Islanders scored three goals on their first five shots, overcoming a 2-0 deficit for a 5-4 win. John Tavares had three assists in the win. 

The Islanders are 4-2-0 against Detroit since the Red Wings moved back to the Eastern Conference in 2013-14.

2. ISLES' DEFENSEMEN SCORING:

The New York Islanders are getting production from their blue line of late, getting goals from defensemen in three of their last four games, going 3-0-1 over that span. 

Travis Hamonic and Nick Leddy each lit the lamp in Friday’s 5-2 win over Ottawa, Hamonic scored the game-winner, while Leddy extended his point streak to three games (2G, 1A). Both goals came from similar positions, big point shots through traffic in front of the net. The Islanders are 2-0-0 when they get two goals from their blue line and are 8-5-1 when a defenseman scores. 

3. PENALTY KILL:

The Islanders penalty kill is a perfect 22-for-22 over its last six games. The Islanders penalty kill is ranked second in the NHL at 87.8%. 

4. DYLAN LARKIN:

Renowned for crafty, ageless veterans like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings are being led by a rookie this season: Dylan Larkin. 

Larkin, the 15th-overall pick in 2014, leads the Red Wings in goals (15) and is tied with Zetterberg in points (32). Larkin is second in rookie scoring to Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, who is riding shotgun with the NHL’s leading scorer Patrick Kane. (Larkin is linemates with Zetterberg.)

He’s a Michigan boy, a native of Waterford, an alumnus of the University of Michigan and is carrying on Detroit’s tradition of defensive responsibility with a +23 rating, the third-highest in the league. A product of USA Hockey’s National Development Team, Larkin was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for November, scoring seven goals and three assists over that span. The 19-year-old will represent the Red Wings at the NHL All-Star Game. 

5. DETROIT WINGING IT:

Losing Mike Babcock hasn’t slowed the Red Wings this season, as Detroit is holding onto the third seed in the Atlantic Division. The Red Wings are looking to quality for the playoffs for a 25th straight year and while they are in the mix, they hold the distinction of being the Eastern playoff team with the biggest negative goal differential (-4), a potential pitfall.

While Larkin has emerged as one of Detroit’s newest offensive threats, the duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still playing key roles for the Wings. Zetterberg is tied for the team lead in points (32) while Datsyuk has 23 points (6G, 17A) in 33 games this season. 

Petr Mrazek has emerged as the Red Wings’ starter this season, taking the job from Jimmy Howard. Mrazek is 17-9-4 this season with good numbers, a 2.03 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. The 23-year-old posted a 19-save shutout in his last outing, a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. With Howard finishing the Red Wings back-to-back on Saturday, expect Mrazek to start on Monday in Brooklyn. 

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