Each Wednesday throughout the regular season, Kevin Weekes will be offering his pluses and minuses for the teams competing in the NBCSN "Wednesday Night Hockey" game in his Weekes on the Web blog.
The Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild will each play their final game Wednesday prior to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
The Red Wings (12-34-4) visit the Wild (22-21-6) at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
Here's my breakdown of the game:
Pluses: Because of the way the season has unfolded, the younger players are getting a chance to play more meaningful minutes. That includes forward and 2020 NHL All-Star Game participant Tyler Bertuzzi (24), forward Filip Zadina (20) and defenseman Filip Hronek (22).
I have liked what I've seen from Dylan Larkin, who's been fairly productive in a challenging season. He leads the Red Wings with 22 assists, is second with 35 points and has averaged 21:09 of ice time per game, most among their forwards. He should be an important piece of this team for years to come.
Minuses: Detroit is 0-4-1 in its past five games and has allowed the most goals in the League (194), scored the fewest (106), ranks last on the penalty kill (73.3 percent) and 29th on the power play (14.4 percent). With those numbers, it's not hard to see why the season has gone the way it has for the Red Wings.
Goalie Jimmy Howard is 0-13-2 in his past 15 starts and 2-18-2 this season. His goals-against average (4.11) and save percentage (.883) aren't indicative of the way he's played, but it's been tough to see the 35-year-old have two wins in 22 starts.
The Red Wings will also be without forward Frans Nielsen and defenseman Mike Green, each with an upper-body injury, and will be without forward Anthony Mantha for at least another month. That's three pretty important players to not have in the lineup.
Video: DET@COL: Bertuzzi nets Larkin's feed to open scoring
Pluses: The Wild are at home, which is good news since they're 13-6-4 at Xcel Energy Center this season and have been much better there than on the road (9-15-2). And you can bet they'll be hungry for a win following a 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday at home in which they allowed the tying goal with 4:08 remaining and the winning goal with six seconds left.
Zach Parise leads the Wild with 19 goals, including five in his past four games, and it's good to see the 35-year-old producing. And veteran Eric Staal (also 35) hasn't appeared to lose his scoring touch with a team-leading 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 49 games.
Lastly, defenseman Jonas Brodin has really grown into his own this season; he has 20 points (one goal, 19 assists) and is plus-10. That's second on the team behind rookie Carson Soucy (plus-16). It's nice to see him producing with Matt Dumba struggling offensively (14 points in 49 games).
Minuses: Minnesota has two wins in its past seven games (2-4-1) and has allowed at least four goals in four of those five losses. The Wild haven't been able to sustain success following up good stretches of play with poor play, although they have recovered nicely from a 4-9-1 start.
The penalty kill ranks 27th in the League (75.2) and has allowed at least one power-play goal in eight of the Wild's past nine games (20-31), which is 64.5 percent. It doesn't matter who your opponent is, you can't expect to defeat anyone with those numbers.
Video: DAL@MIN: Parise tips Suter's shot for PPG
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. Howard playing better, does he start again?
2. Will Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri provide offense for the Red Wings?
3. Do the Wild give more opportunity to Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin and the younger players?