The Detroit Red Wings have not played a regular season NHL game since March 10 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
They return to the ice this week to open the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season with two games against, coincidentally, the Hurricanes.
Reminder: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams are competing intra-divisionally for the entire regular season. Central Division teams will meet each other eight times to complete a 56-game schedule before the playoffs begin in May.
I have placed the full Red Wings 2020-21 season schedule here. It has the times, TV channels and will be updated to reflect game outcomes.
Here’s a look at the first four games on the schedule to get us started:
- Thursday, Jan. 14 -- vs. Carolina at Little Caesars Arena -- 7:30 p.m. (FSD)
- Saturday, Jan. 16 -- vs. Carolina at Little Caesars Arena -- 7:00 p.m. (FSD PLUS)
- Monday, Jan. 18 -- vs. Columbus at Little Caesars Arena -- 12:00 p.m. (FSD/NBCSN)
- Tuesday, Jan. 19 -- vs. Columbus at Little Caesars Arena -- 7:30 p.m. (FSD)
- View the full schedule here.
The possible roster
After training camp, here’s what the roster could like opening night:
- Line 1 -- LW Tyler Bertuzzi | C Dylan Larkin | RW Anthony Mantha
- Line 2 -- LW Filip Zadina | C Robby Fabbri* | RW Bobby Ryan
- Line 3 -- LW Vladislav Namestnikov | C Valtteri Filppula | RW Sam Gagner
- Line 4 -- LW Darren Helm | C Luke Glendening | RW Adam Erne
*I am excited to see Fabbri at center, the position at which he came into the league. He took 67 faceoffs last season with a 40.3% faceoff winning percentage, for what it’s worth.
- D1 -- Dan DeKeyser | Filip Hronek
- D2 -- Marc Staal | Patrik Nemeth
- D3 -- Jon Merrill | Troy Stetcher
- Thomas Greiss
- Jonathan Bernier
Because the NHL won’t have a minor league system to easily draw on due to the American Hockey League pushing its start to Feb. 5, teams will be allowed “taxi squads.” NHL teams will continue with 23-player rosters with the addition of up to four to six players.
We’ll see what the team decides to do here. They have to carry at least one goalie on this taxi squad. I would expect at least two defenseman, too, perhaps three.
One of those defenseman on the taxi squad could be 26-year-old Christian Djoos. The Red Wings grabbed him off waivers from the Ducks on Saturday. The Capitals drafted him in the seventh round in 2012. He played in 22 playoff games in 2018 during Washington’s run to the Stanley Cup title.
He spent most of this past season playing in the AHL for the Hershey Bears. He was traded to the Ducks, then he signed a one-year deal with them in May.
This is another low-risk move from Yzerman to shore up the defense. I like this one, just as I liked the moves for Staal, Stetcher and Merrill.
Here’s a surprise (not): Djoos is Swedish. 🇸🇪 He won two silver medals as a junior player for Sweden.
Who knows if he’ll stick around beyond this season -- even beyond the trade deadline -- but if he does, I could see him being a mentor for some of the younger Swedes in the Detroit system such as Lucas Raymond, Albert Johansson, the rest.
We all know how terrible this past season went for the Red Wings -- one of the worst in franchise history. With that in mind, and the moves GM Steve Yzerman made to improve the compete level of this squad in the short term, I put together this little survey to see what our group here thinks of the team’s chances this season.
I’ll share the results before the first game Thursday -- I’ll post them to the new Dear Red Wings Discussion Board.
Hopefully we can sustain some fun, interesting and informative conversations about the team at the new discussion board.
NHL virus concerns to start the season
As you can imagine, or probably already know, some teams are facing difficulty clearing everyone to play before the season due to the virus. The NHL said Friday that six Dallas Stars players and two staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. That will push back the opener for the defending Western Conference champions by nearly a week.
Dallas had been set to open the season Jan. 14 at Florida. The NHL said it was “reviewing and revising” the Stars’ schedule and the opener was not likely to be any earlier than Jan. 19, currently a rematch in Tampa Bay against the Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
The Columbus Blue Jackets also held a number of players off the ice “out of abundance of caution” in another reminder that the pandemic will likely play havoc with the season opening next Wednesday.
Both Dallas and Columbus are in the Central Division with Detroit. The Red Wings are scheduled to play Columbus next week. We’ll have to watch this closely.
This has been a trend for other professional sports leagues when they try to launch seasons -- the MLB, NFL and NBA.
This also will make fantasy hockey leagues ... interesting. I tried to spread out my lineups as much as possible across the NHL -- across all divisions.
Key dates for the 2020-21 NHL season:
- Jan. 13 -- Season starts
- Feb. 1 -- Teams can start requesting players waive NMC for expansion draft purposes
- April 12 -- Trade deadline
- May 8 -- Season ends
- May 11 -- Playoffs begin
- July 15 -- Last possible day for the playoffs
- 24 hours after end of playoffs -- Player buyout period begins
- July 21 -- Expansion draft for Seattle Kraken
- July 23-24 -- NHL Entry Draft
- July 28 -- Free agency begins