Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan – Monday, December 18, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET

December hockey can be a cruel mistress. The nights grow longer, the air crisper, and teams begin to wear the scars of a grueling campaign. For the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings, December 18th’s clash at Little Caesars Arena promises to be a battle of the battered, a fight for bragging rights amongst two sides nursing significant wounds.

The Ducks, currently floundering with an 11-19 record, arrive with their offense on life support. Losing talisman Trevor Zegras and top defender Jamie Drysdale to lower-body ailments is a punch to the gut, silencing their most potent playmaker and creating gaping holes in their defensive fabric. Mason McTavish, another young gun, remains questionable with an upper-body issue, adding further uncertainty to their lineup.

Yet, the Ducks haven’t surrendered to the injury bug. Adam Henrique’s recent hat trick against New Jersey showed their offensive spark can still flicker, and their 11-4-0 record when scoring three or more goals hints at a potent attack waiting to unleash. The challenge? Replicating that firepower without their usual conductors.

Across the ice, the Red Wings stand with a deceptively healthy 15-11-4 record, but hidden beneath the surface lie their own struggles. The absence of captain Dylan Larkin, their offensive fulcrum, casts a long shadow. His head injury robs them of their playmaking maestro and emotional leader, forcing Tyler Bertuzzi and others to shoulder the offensive burden.

Adding to their woes is the recent dip in form. Three consecutive home losses, culminating in a 1-0 shutout against the Flyers, exposes chinks in their armor. Their vaunted offense has sputtered, scoring a measly one goal in their last two outings. Can they rediscover their scoring touch against a vulnerable Ducks defense?

On paper, the Red Wings hold the advantage. Their deeper roster and home-ice comfort offer tangible benefits. However, the Ducks’ desperation shouldn’t be underestimated. A wounded animal is often the most unpredictable, and Anaheim, cornered and hungry, could erupt in a desperate attempt to halt their nosedive.

Picking the Puck:

While the Red Wings hold the edge, their recent inconsistencies and offensive woes give the Ducks a glimmer of hope. The puck line at -1.5 for Detroit feels risky. Instead, consider the Ducks +1.5. It offers higher value and reflects the potential for Anaheim to keep it close, buoyed by their wounded warrior spirit.

Over or Under the Total?

Both offenses lack their usual rhythm, but the Ducks can be surprisingly potent when desperate. Detroit’s defense has shown occasional leaks. The over/under of 6.5 leans slightly towards the “under”, though a cautious approach wouldn’t be wrong.


This game screams “toss-up.” Expect a tense, gritty battle defined by defensive scrambles and opportunistic offense. The Red Wings are favored, but underestimate the Ducks’ fighting spirit at your peril.

Final Score: Detroit Red Wings 3 – Anaheim Ducks 2

Anaheim’s Desperate Dance:

  • High-pressure defense: Expect the Ducks to swarm early, forcing turnovers and capitalizing on Red Wings’ offensive transition breakdowns. Their depleted defense needs to compensate with hustle and aggression.
  • Counter-punching offense: Look for Anaheim to rely on quick strikes and opportunistic scoring. Henrique’s recent heroics show they can still pounce on mistakes. McTavish’s potential return could bolster their offensive core.
  • Resilience in adversity: The Ducks have shown grit even with key players out. Their willingness to battle despite the odds could be a differentiator against a potentially complacent Red Wings squad.

Detroit’s Defensive Discipline:

  • Solid structure: With their offensive leader sidelined, the Red Wings might prioritize a tight defensive scheme. Look for them to clog passing lanes, limit high-danger chances, and force Anaheim to work for every inch of ice.
  • Controlled offense: Expect patient puck movement and disciplined attacks through the neutral zone. Bertuzzi will need to step up as the main scoring threat, finding space through smart positioning and opportunistic shots.
  • Exploiting defensive vulnerabilities: The Red Wings will look to expose Drysdale’s absence by attacking Anaheim’s flanks and testing their goaltender with quality scoring chances.

A close shave for the Red Wings, a moral victory for the Ducks.

PICK: Take the Ducks on the Puck Line +1.5 WINNER