Red Wings prepare to host Capitals after 4 games postponed due to COVID

Detroit eyeing playoffs but will face tough second half to season

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin, third from left, celebrates his second goal of the game with center Pius Suter (24), defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and center Vladislav Namestnikov (92) as New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith (24) skates off during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) (Duane Burleson, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are scheduled to host the Washington Capitals on New Year’s Eve at Little Caesars Arena after an extended break due to the pandemic.

The Red Wings’ past four games on the schedule were postponed due to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases on the team and throughout the NHL. Detroit last played Dec. 18 against the New Jersey Devils -- a 5-2 win in Detroit.

The league had a scheduled holiday break between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 but the Red Wings started that break early with two games postponed -- Dec. 20 against Colorado and Dec. 23 against Minnesota. Then their break was extended when the league postponed two more games for Detroit -- Dec. 27 against the New York Rangers and Dec. 29 against the New York Islanders.

Finally, the Red Wings appear to be primed for an actual game against the Capitals on Friday night. A long list of Red Wings players and coaches were removed from the league’s COVID protocol list during the break. Defenseman Nick Leddy was still going through the protocol as of Friday morning.

Red Wings schedule:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 29 -- 7:30 p.m. @ Islanders -- BSD Plus -- POSTPONED
  • Friday, Dec. 31 -- 7:30 p.m. vs Capitals -- BSD
  • Sunday, Jan. 2 -- 1 p.m. vs Bruins -- BSD
  • Tuesday, Jan. 4 -- 7:30 p.m. vs Sharks -- BSD

View the full Red Wings schedule with outcomes here.

Red Wings making case for playoffs

The Red Wings (15-13-3) are in 4th place in the Atlantic Division and currently sit in the second Wild Card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Eastern Conference standings

Captain Dylan Larkin leads Detroit with 29 points in 27 games. Rookie Lucas Raymond is right behind with 28 points in 31 games played, and rookie defenseman Moritz Seider is right behind him with 21 points in 31 games. The two first-round draft picks clearly have been making all the difference for Detroit.

Larkin centers Raymond and Tyler Bertuzzi (21 points) on Detroit’s top forward line that has helped launch the rebuilding Red Wings into a fight for a playoff spot. The second half of the NHL season will be a true to test for this club that was not expected to be in the playoff conversation.

Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, however, is making a case to keep the Red Wings in the discussion. “Ned” is 9-7-1 with a .916 save percentage this season. Can he keep this high level of play and push his Red Wings into the post season? That’s what we’re looking to find out in the first couple of months of the year 2022.

Detroit’s second half schedule includes multiple games against league leaders including the Tampa Bay Lighting, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and more.

That schedule will change drastically as the league must set new dates and times for the postponed games and adjust to protocol changes in Canada.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.