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Red Wings open season tonight against Blue Jackets -- here's what to know

New young forwards, defensemen are in lineup

Little Caesars Arena in Detroit before a Red Wings game. (WDIV)

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings open the 2018-19 season tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Coach John Tortorella's Jackets went 3-5 in the preseason. They are led by a top line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson. Sergei Bobrovsky remains in the crease for Columbus. 

Detroit's record against Columbus last season

  • Nov. 11, 2017 -- L -- Blue Jackets 2, Red Wings 1 (SO)
  • March 9, 2018 -- L -- Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 2
  • April 3, 2018 -- L -- Blue Jackets 5, Red Wings 4 (OT)

Red Wings opening night line combos projection

Projected forward lines: 

Gustav NyquistDylan LarkinAnthony Mantha
Tyler BertuzziFrans NielsenMichael Rasmussen
Justin AbdelkaderAndreas AthanasiouThomas Vanek
Darren HelmChristoffer EhnLuke Glendening

 

Who are rookies Rasmussen and Ehn?

Michael Rasmussen, 19, was drafted 9th overall by the Red Wings in 2017. He has not played a professional hockey game yet, but had a strong preseason. Last season was his fourth season with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL (Canada junior league). In the WHL playoffs he had 33 points in 14 games played. He's under contract until 2021. 

Christoffer Ehn, 22, is a Swedish center who has been playing with Frolunda HC in the Swedish league. He was drafted back in 2014 by the Red Wings (4th round, 106th overall). His making the team comes as a bit of a surprise to many who probably had not thought about him before this year's training camp. 

Here's a look at the projected defensive pairings: 


Obviously, the Red Wings defense is a bit up-in-the-air as far as who is in and out. So if you are watching tonight and the pairings don't look like this, don't blame me. Jeff Blashill has decisions to make.

The team recalled Hicketts, Witkowski and Hronek from Grand Rapids on Wednesday while veteran defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (upper body), Mike Green (virus) and Niklas Kronwall (?) all are out of the lineup. Green and Kronwall were placed on the injured reserve list to make room for the recalled players. 

Sulak gets spot

Defenseman Libor Sulak caught everyone's attention this preseason when he showed off his speed, size and knack for jumping up into the offensive zone. He is an undrafted native of Czech Republic who played two games in Grand Rapids this past season. 

Goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to start in the home opener. 

Upcoming Red Wings schedule

Around the league

The NHL season got underway Wednesday night with four games: 

  • Toronto Maples Leafs beats the Monreal Canadiens, 3-2, in overtime. 
  • The Washington Capitals blew out the Boston Bruins, 7-0, in their home opener and banner-raising night. 
  • The Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames, 5-2. 
  • The San Jose Sharks dropped their first game to the Anaheim Ducks, 5-2. 

Here's what's on the NHL schedule for Thursday: 

  • Bruins vs. Sabres (7 p.m.)
  • Capitals vs. Penguins (7 p.m.)
  • Islanders vs. Hurricanes (7 p.m.)
  • Predators vs. Rangers (7:30 p.m.)
  • Blackhawks vs. Senators (7:30 p.m.)
  • Blue Jackets vs. Red Wings (7:30 p.m.)
  • Jets vs. Blues (8 p.m.)
  • Coyotes vs. Stars (8:30 p.m.)
  • Wild vs. Avalanche (9 p.m.)
  • Flyers vs. Golden Knights (10 p.m.)

This hockey newsletter is authored by Dave Bartkowiak Jr. He can be contacted at dbartkowiak@wdiv.com or on Twitter @DaveBartko

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