Red Wings roundup: Zadina is hope, NHL virus protocols update, Abdelkader keeps playing

Red Wings seek to snap losing streak against Panthers after stronger showing vs. Lightning

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 12: Filip Zadina #11 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Winnipeg Jets at Little Caesars Arena on December 12, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (Gregory Shamus, 2019 Getty Images)

Filip Zadina returned to the lineup Friday night and made an immediate impact, assisting on the first goal of the game.

More Z, please

Keep him on the first line. Zadina is leading the team in PDO, though he’s only played five games due to COVID protocol.

  • Refresher: PDO, called SPSV% by the NHL, for an individual is the sum of a team’s shooting percentage while that player is on the ice (”On Ice Shooting Percentage” or “oiSH%”) and the team’s save percentage with that player on the ice. Analytics nerds agree a player with a PDO at or above 102 is strong -- Zadina’s PDO is 111 right now.

But you don’t need to know that advanced stat to agree he’s such a positive impact on this roster. You can see it right there each shift he takes. He has the mental and physical ability to become one heck of a player in this league. And as Mickey Redmond said the other night, Zadina has arrived.

At just 21 years young, the 6th overall pick in 2018 is giving us hope for the future. He’s a big reason Friday night’s game started well for the Red Wings and stayed tighter than the previous 5-1 loss to the Lightning. Now I want to see him on the ice more than 15 minutes a night.

The Red Wings ended up losing their second straight to the Lightning, 3-1, on Friday. However, it was obvious the return of Zadina and defenseman Jon Merrill (PDO of 110.1 through six games) made them that much better. Dylan Larkin would agree:

“We controlled what we can control and we showed up,” Larkin said. “We competed. That’s a heck of a hockey team over there. It was a one-shot game. We wanted to clean up some small things. We were right there. We worked the way we should every night.”

It’s important that Larkin stays positive like this and keeps pointing out the good things, because the bad can be overwhelming and toxic for a young group like this.

Up next is another two-game series with Florida, starting with a 3 p.m. Sunday game. I think we’ll see the Red Wings win at least one of these. They played really well against the Panthers last week, suffering two close 3-2 losses, one in overtime. It’s time to win a game for no other reason than confidence.

Injuries note

The COVID protocol list was cleared last week, but there are some players still out due to other injuries:

  • Jonathan Bernier remains out indefinitely. He was placed on the injury reserve list due to a upper-body injury, and it is unclear how long he will be idle.
  • Tyler Bertuzzi is also out indefinitely. He has ended up on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury, and it is uncertain how much time he will need to heal.
  • Sam Gagner could be back Sunday. He was lifted from the last game with a left shoulder injury, but it is anticipated that he will play against the Panthers on Sunday.

Coming up:

  • 3 p.m. Sunday vs. Florida @ BB&T Center (FSD)
  • 7 p.m Tuesday vs Florida @ BB&T Center (FSD PLUS)
  • 8 p.m. Thursday vs. Nashville @ Bridgestone Arena (FSD PLUS)
  • 8 p.m. Saturday vs. Nashville @ Bridgestone Arena (FSD)

Thomas Greiss remains winless

Thomas Greiss has really stepped up this season. Friday night could have gotten out of hand against the Lightning, but Greiss gave the Red Wings a chance. With Bernier out, the 35-year-old has had to start five straight games. He posted a .935 save percentage in the 3-1 loss on Friday.

He remains winless at 0-7-2. He’ll likely have the net again on Sunday -- it’s unclear if Calvin Pickard will ever get the nod.

What Blashill said about Carolina and COVID

Jeff Blashill dropped a little bomb last week about how he believes the Red Wings players, such as Zadina, ended up on the COVID protocol list:

The outbreak hit the Red Wings after that opening series against Carolina on Jan. 14-16. By Jan. 18. Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne tested positive, and three days later three more players had to be added to the COVID list. They’re all cleared now after Zadina returned on Friday.

“Carolina had guys that ultimately played with COVID,” Blashill said. “That’s just the reality of the testing being delayed. I’m quite certain that’s where our guys got it. It’s really hard to avoid that. But our guys got it and then it didn’t spread within our team any more than that. So I think our medical staff did an excellent job. We’ve enforced the protocol that’s been in place to make sure we mitigate any further spreading. Our staff and our players did a really good job of that. You have to do it the best you can.”

And this is part of the reason the NHL is revisiting its virus protocols. The league is considering an increase in rapid testing.

“It takes a while to get results and there are concerns about gaps because of it,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “Well, over the last 24-to-48 hours, the league and the players have been looking to secure more docking stations for rapid tests. Once that happens, I think you’re going to see rapid tests become more of a factor in the NHL’s testing process -- especially on game days.”

Other adjustments include removing glass panels from behind benches for better air flow, making all meetings virtual and telling teams to space out locker rooms to provide 6 feet of space between inhabitants. The league said it was also considering portable air filters that would be installed by the benches. Players and coaches now aren’t allowed at the arena until 1 hour 45 minutes before the game unless they’re getting “necessary treatment or to engage in preparations in advance of the game.”

Justin Abdelkader signs in Switzerland

Finally, we learned this week that Justin Abdelkader is not done playing pro hockey. According to reports out of Switzerland, the 33-year-old forward has signed with Switzerland’s EV Zug. The team said this isn’t about money -- he just wants to play hockey.

“He has earned enough in his career and does not come to us for the money. He just wants to play again and present himself on the market, which is why his obligation practically does not burden our budget,” EV Zug sports director Reto Kläy said, per a Google translation. “He is extremely happy to finally be able to play again. His sporting ambitions are just as high as ours. That makes him the perfect addition to our team.”

EV Zug competes in Switzerland’s National League, the top pro hockey league in the country. They were NL Championship runners-up in 2019.

The Red Wings bought out Abdelkader’s hefty contract in October. He was in the 5th year of a 7-year contract he signed with the Red Wings in 2015. CapFriendly reports Abdelkader would cost $4.25 million against the cap for the remainder of his nearly $30 million deal.

Key dates for the 2020-21 NHL season:

  • 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

About the Author:

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