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At the Rink: Lightning at Red Wings

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings will get their first shot at redemption Tuesday when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports) in a rematch of the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Red Wings were eliminated in seven games by the Lightning, who advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

"They're the team that won the Eastern Conference, so they're the team to beat," Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. "They have a big target on their chests obviously. We took them to seven games. I think we match up really well with those guys. We play similar types of hockey and systems. They skate really well. I think we're a team that skates well too. It should be a lot of fun here; kind of a new rivalry for us."

The Red Wings believe they've improved since losing to the Lightning. Defenseman Mike Green and center Brad Richards were added as free agents. Forward Dylan Larkin's three points are third among rookie scoring leaders.

"I just think they're more dynamic," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You add Mike Green and Brad Richards and Larkin, you're adding enormous skill to an already dynamic team. I think both teams found a recipe that works. Just tweaked it."

Cooper and Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill are close friends who have worked together and coached against one another in the United States Hockey League and the American Hockey League. Cooper won the Calder Cup with Norfolk, the Lightning's AHL affiliate, in 2012 and was named Lightning coach late in the following season.

Blashill won the Calder Cup with Grand Rapids in 2013. He took the Red Wings job June 9.

"He would give me advice when I got to the NHL," Cooper said of Blashill. "He became someone I could talk to quite often, just talk about the life, the ups and the downs and the players. We talked things out."

Blashill made his NHL coaching debut last Friday with a 4-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, led by former Red Wings coach and Blashill's mentor, Mike Babcock. Next was a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, who are coached by Bill Peters, an assistant under Babcock from 2011-14.

"Time flies, for sure, but [Cooper] and I are probably real alike as people," Blashill said. "I guess in some ways and some ways not; he's a lot smoother than I am. We're great friends. We spent time together this summer, a couple weeks over different times golfing. He's somebody I have a great friendship with."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jonathan Drouin - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Erik Condra

Brian Boyle - Vladislav Namestnikov - J.T. Brown

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Matt Carle - Jason Garrison

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Kevin Poulin

Injured: Andrei Vasilevskiy (blood clot), Cedric Paquette (foot).

Scratched: Nikita Nesterov


Dylan Larkin - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Johan Franzen - Brad Richards - Tomas Tatar

Gustav Nyquist - Riley Sheahan - Teemu Pulkkinen

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Tomas Jurco

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Kyle Quincey - Mike Green

Brendan Smith - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), Darren Helm (shoulder, concussion), Danny DeKeyser (foot)

Scratched: Joakim Andersson, Landon Ferraro, Alexey Marchenko

Status report: Nesterov could make his season debut Tuesday after being a healthy scratch the first three games. Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times there may be a skater who can't play. The Lightning have used seven defensemen in the past. … Paquette was scheduled to return Tuesday but Cooper said that wasn't likely. … Jurco makes his regular-season debut after he was a healthy scratch the first two games.

Who's hot: Boyle had two goals Monday in Tampa Bay's 6-3 win against the Boston Bruins. … Abdelkader has four goals and an assist and is plus-4 in the first two games of the season. He was the NHL First Star for the week of Oct. 11.

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