For the third time this week the Detroit Red Wings play a game against an NHL team that desperately needs a victory.
The Red Wings play the Chicago Blackhawks (0-4-1), a team with plenty of issues. They haven’t won a game yet and their coach Jeremy Colliton is rumored to be on the hot seat. To make matters worse, Chicago players Patrick Kane, Ryan Carpenter and Erik Gustafsson have been placed on the Covid-19 protocol list.
That means they have either tested positive or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. The Blackhawks are all fully vaccinated.
This will be the third consecutive winless team the Red Wings team has faced. They lost to the Calgary Flames, 3-0, and the Montreal Canadiens, 6-1. Before that game, the Canadiens had only scored four goals in their first five games. Their offense looked potent against the Red Wings.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said after the loss to the Blackhawks that his forward group has to find their “A Game” for the Red Wings to be competitive. The Red Wings haven’t scored an even-strength goal in their last two losses.
The Red Wings will get help today because Tyler Bertuzzi comes back in the lineup after missing the Montreal game because he can’t play in Canada without being vaccinated. He is the NHL’s only non-vaccinated player. Bertuzzi said his refusal to receive the Covid-19 vaccination is a “personal choice.”
Detroit Red Wings May Change up Defense Again
Bertuzzi, 25, is the team’s leading scorer with five goals. More importantly, the Red Wings seem to feed off his spunky, feisty playing style.
Blashill scratched defenseman Filip Hronek against Montreal and inserted Troy Stecher into the lineup. Hronek had the Detroit defense’s lowest Corsi rating (38.8%). A Corsi rating of 50% or above means a team controls the puck more often than not when he’s on the ice.
The Red Wings may make another defensive change, or perhaps two today, because Blashill wants to get Jordan Oesterle some playing time. It’s presumed Hronek’s absence is temporary because until he was scratched he led the team in playing time.
Center Pius Suter is crucial to Detroit’s hope for more offensive production. After playing exceptionally well in preseason, Suter hasn’t scored a point in Detroit’s first six games. The Red Wings need production out of that No. 2 line, which also includes Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina.
Alex Nedeljkovic, who played the last half of the Montreal game, will start in net for Detroit today against Chicago.
The Blackhawks have their own problems. They expect to compete for a playoff spot after acquiring goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, center Tyler Johnson and defenseman Seth Jones in the offseason.
Jonathan Toews also is back on the ice after missing last season with an illness.
But Toews doesn’t have a point in five games, and is -6. Johnson hasn’t scored a goal. Fleury has a 5.63 goals-against average and an .840 save percentage. Chicago fans have also turned on Seth Jones on social media because he has struggled defensively. He’s also -6 this season.