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Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets: Game time, preview, live score updates

Detroit, Columbus open season

Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings attempts to skate the puck past Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the game on March 9, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings attempts to skate the puck past Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the game on March 9, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Detroit Red Wings in the season opener for both teams Thursday night and the story is more about who won’t be on the ice than the players that will be there.

Standout defenseman Seth Jones of Columbus is lost for about another month with a knee injury while the Red Wings could be missing three of their top six on the blue line, and captain Henrik Zetterberg will drop the ceremonial first puck after retiring recently.

  • TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Columbus), FS Detroit

The Blue Jackets come in with high expectations after another playoff disappointment, losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington in the first round after winning the first two games on the road. Columbus returns much of the same group, including leading scorer Artemi Panarin (27 goals, 82 points), but the talented forward did not sign a contract extension in the offseason and could be traded at some point if a deal cannot be worked out.

Detroit has missed the playoffs the last two seasons after a string of 25 straight postseason appearances and must replace the production and fill the leadership void left by the departure of Zetterberg (960 career points, 56 in 2017-18). Red Wings veteran defensemen Mike Green (virus) and Niklas Kronwall (undisclosed) have been ruled out for the season opener and fellow blue liner Jonathan Ericsson (upper-body) is doubtful while Trevor Daley is expected to play despite being banged up in the preseason.

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ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (2017-2018: 45-30-7):

Columbus will also be without top six defenseman Ryan Murray (lower-body), and Zach Werenski will lead the blue line after recording 16 goals last season. Center Riley Nash and wing Anthony Duclair were added to the forward corps and the Blue Jackets hope young players such as center Pierre-Luc Dubois can take a step forward. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky returns after another strong season in which he posted 37 wins along with a 2.42 goals against average and .921 save percentage. 

ABOUT THE RED WINGS (2017-18: 30-39-13):

Defensemen Joe Hicketts and Filip Hronek were assigned to the American Hockey League but will likely be back because of the injuries and two other rookie blue liners - Libor Sulak and Dennis Cholowski - could be in the lineup for opening night. “Cholowski showed me more than I realized he had on the power play with the poise and some of the plays he made,” coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit Free Press of the former first-round pick. Center Dylan Larkin returns with a brand new five-year contract after leading the team with 63 points (16 goals) while Anthony Mantha hopes to move forward after a career-best 24 goals in 2017-18.

OVERTIME

1. Bobrovsky played in a career-high 65 games last season and is 12-4-1 (3-0 in 2017-18) against the Red Wings with a 1.98 GAA.

2. Detroit F Michael Rasmussen, the ninth overall pick in 2017, is expected to make his NHL debut Thursday.

3. Red Wings G Jimmy Howard returns after an up and down season (22-27-9, 2.85 GAA) and G Jonathan Bernier was brought in as a free agent.

PREDICTION: Red Wings 4, Blue Jackets 3