Detroit Red Wings (30-39-10, 70 points) vs. New Jersey Devils (27-43-8, 62 points)
When: 1 pm Sunday.
Where: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
TV: Bally Sports Detroit Extra.
Radio: WXYT-AM (1270; other radio affiliates).
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SATURDAY’S GAME:Red Wings run off the ice in the home final, losing to Penguins, 7-2
DOWN THE DRAIN:Ex-Wings employee Al Sobotka ‘devastated’ after being fired for peeing in drain
Game notes: The Devils have eight fewer points than the Wings, a good reminder that multiple no. 1 overall picks – Nico Hischier in 2017 and Plymouth’s Jack Hughes in 2019 – don’t necessarily guararantee success. The Devils also selected Hughes’ brother Jack in last summer’s draft (at No. 4 overall), but after his freshman season at Michigan (in which he was a top-10 finisher in the Hobey Baker Trophy voting), he appears to be leaning toward returning for another season in Ann Arbor.
Hischier has 21 goals and 38 assists over 69 games this season; it’s his second season with at least 20 goals, following his rookie season in 2017-18, but his assist total is a career high. Hughes, meanwhile, has shown electric talent in his three seasons, but has been injury-prone. Last season’s 56-game schedule is his only full season, with 61 games played in 2019-20 and 49 played in 2021-22. With 26 goals and 30 assists this season, he’s shown he’s worthy of the top pick – and an eight-year, $ 64 million contract signed a few months ago. (Guess he’ll be buying the sandwiches at Zingerman’s when he visits his baby bro.) He’ll be taking it easy for this one off the ice, though, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury a couple of weeks ago.
The Wings, meanwhile, are shorthanded on offense, with captain Dylan Larkin out after core muscle surgery on Monday and Flilp Zadina having his appendix removed in Florida after Thursday’s loss to the Panthers. But they still have Jakub Vrana, who scored AGAIN in Saturday’s loss at home to the Penguins. That’s 13 goals in 23 games, good for a tie for sixth on the Wings’ roster despite missing the first 56 games after suffering a shoulder injury 10 minutes into October’s training camp.
Sunday’s matinee is the first of two games in six days in Newark for the Wings; they’ll finish the season there Friday. In between, the Wings – but (for one final time) not Tyler Bertuzzi, who remains unvaccinated against COVID-19 and is thus unable to travel to Canada – will visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The Devils, meanwhile, visit Ottawa on Tuesday and Carolina on Thursday before their reunion with the Wings.
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