The Detroit Red Wings (2-6-2) are suffering a six-game losing skid as they enter a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-1-1) this week.
Note: Wednesday’s game is a rare 5:30 p.m. start.
- 5:30 p.m. Wednesday vs. Tampa at Amalie Arena (TV: FSD, NBCSN)
- 7 p.m. Friday vs. Tampa at Amalie Arena (TV: FSD)
Here are five things to know ahead of the Tampa games:
1. Some Red Wings returning from COVID protocol
Forward Robby Fabbri is expected to return to the lineup in time for Wednesday’s meeting in Tampa. Fabbri had been out since Jan. 18 and on the injured reserve list while going through the COVID-19 protocol. The forward scored the game winner in his lat game before COVID protocol. He was a big part of the offense last year with 14 goals and 17 assists in 52 games.
There were four other Detroit players placed on that COVID protocol list that week -- Sam Gagner, Jon Merrill, Adam Erne and Filip Zadina. Gagner, Merrilll and Erne could be back in the lineup on Wednesday, while Zadina may not be back until Friday.
Getting these players back should help the Red Wings return to the more competitive form they showed in the first four games of the season. The team was trending in a better direction until the virus put a snag in their plans right before a Friday night meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Red Wings actually won in overtime against the Blue Jackets the next night, but haven’t won a game since.
2. Bertuzzi questionable
Hopefully we get an update on Tyler Bertuzzi, who was held out of the previous game with an upper-body injury. Bertuzzi has 5 goals so far this season, enough to lead the team.
3. Jonathan Bernier may return
Goalie Jonathan Bernier has sat out the previous two games with an upper-body injury, but he could be back in time for the Tampa games. The injury may have happened during the Dallas Stars game when Anthony Mantha slid through the crease, taking Bernier with him and knocking the net loose. The Stars scored a goal on this play, one of six that night as part of a 7-3 blowout.
Thomas Greiss played back-to-back games against the Florida Panthers. He was backed up by Calvin Pickard, who has been waiting on the taxi squad.
4. Red Wings need a power play
“You guys gotta stop losing. Get the power play together.”
“We’re working on it.”
-- The ever famous line from “Slap Shot.”
The Red Wings played well despite having only one point to show for it against the Florida Panthers in back-to-back games over the weekend. You could see moments of better play through those two games, but a failure to score on special teams is haunting them.
The power play continues to be a large hurdle -- Detroit has connected on only 4 of its 34 chances (11.8 percent), which ranked 25th in the league before Tuesday’s games.
“I actually thought the power play looked fairly good, but we’ve got to find ways to score,” coach Jeff Blashill said after Sunday’s loss. “You’ve got to find ways to win these close games. “If you have those power plays consistently, you’re going to score.”
OK. Time to execute.
5. Red Wings lineup looks like this
If Fabbri and Erne return but Bertuzzi remains out on Wednesday, the lineup could look like this:
- Line 1: LW Robby Fabbri | C Dylan Larkin | RW Bobby Ryan
- Line 2: LW Taro Hirose | C Vladislav Namestnikov | RW Anthony Mantha
- Line 3: RW Mathias Brome | C Valtteri Filppula | RW Givani Smith
- Line 4: LW Adam Erne | C Luke Glendening | RW Darren Helm
- First pair: Patrik Nemeth | Filip Hronek
- Second pair: Danny DeKeyser | Christian Djoos
- Third pair: Marc Staal | Troy Stecher
If Bernier returns, we should expect him to relieve Greiss. Otherwise, there is potential for Pickard to get the net for this game. However, Pickard has not played a NHL game since Jan. 14, 2020. That was an 8-2 loss to the Islanders, who had Greiss in net.