The Detroit Red Wings still don’t know if they are playing the New York Islanders on Wednesday. If it should turn out that they are playing, who will be playing? Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill still has no idea who will be in his lineup.
COVID-19 giveth and COVID-19 taketh away from the Wings on Sunday. The team was returning to the ice for their first post-Christmas practice. Forwards Michael Rasmussen and Robby Fabbri were coming out of COVID-19 protocol. Meanwhile, the team was announcing that forward Lucas Raymond and defenseman Nick Leddy were new entrants into COVID-19 protocol.
UPDATE: The #RedWings have placed forward Lucas Raymond and defenseman Nick Leddy in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.
Forwards Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen have been removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 26, 2021
That leaves 10 Detroit players in COVID-19 protocol – goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, defensemen Leddy and Jordan Oesterle and forwards Filip Zadina, Sam Gagner, Joe Veleno, Carter Rowney, Givani Smith, Adam Erne and Raymond. Blashill and assistant coach Alex Tanguay are also in COVID-19 protocol.
“I wasn’t available yet,” Blashill said via Zoom of Sunday’s practice session. “My first day back will be tomorrow. But as a group, we had 10 skaters and a goalie.
“Tomorrow I anticipate having seven forwards and five D and one goalie available to skate, with a couple guys coming out (of protocol). We’ll take a step closer, I guess, to a real practice, but obviously you’re limited with the numbers you have. We’ll be able to do a tiny bit more from a team perspective but it’s still going to be about guys getting their legs and feeling the puck and getting those things back.”
Red Wings Awaiting NHL Word
As to where they will be going next and whether that will include packing for a trip to Long Island, well to be brutally honest, the Wings don’t have the foggiest notion about what their immediate future holds.
“My understanding is we’re tentatively planning, from our perspective, of playing on the 29th at the Islanders but I don’t know whether or not the games will happen or not happen,” Blashill said. “I think the NHL, they’re taking information in and making decisions when they have to, not necessarily before they have to.
“Obviously, a number of guys around the league came back from the holiday break and all get tested today. I’ve been watching the NHL Network this morning and a lot of guys across the league have tested positive. So, I don’t know if that means there will be a further delay in the restart of our schedule or if we’re playing the 29th. I hope to find that out in the near future.”
The Wings beat the New York Islanders on December 18 when Grand Rapids AHL coach Ben Simon running the bench and several call ups from his team also playing.
Congratulations to Shaker Heights alum Ben Simon, who made his NHL coaching debut over the weekend when he stepped in as head coach for the Detroit Red Wings! Way to go, Ben! pic.twitter.com/s4D8LihZS0
— Shaker Heights Schools (@shakerschools) December 21, 2021
Detroit’s December 20 home game with the Colorado Avalanche was called off. Road games on December 23 at Minnesota and December 27 at the New York Rangers were also the victims of postponement. Monday, the Griffins, Detroit’s top farm club, saw their game with the Cleveland Monsters postponed due to COVID-19.
Red Wings Will Be Short Staffed
If the NHL requires the Red Wings to play on Wednesday, they will do so with a shorthanded lineup. What about those who are out of COVID-19 protocol and able to participate? How could they possibly be expected to be at 100% of their capabilities?
“We won’t have all of them and I think part of it is there’s one thing to be available to play,” Blashill said. “There’’s another thing to be ready to play. Just because a guy’s out that day, that means he wouldn’t have skated at all for 10 days. Where’s everybody at from that aspect?
“We’ll make those decisions as we move forward. We certainly have plans in place for call ups from the American Hockey League to play if needed and fill those roster spots. We’ll play with a roster, if we do play, that we’re going to go in there and win the hockey game. But we won’t have everybody available to us beyond even the two guys that we placed in today.”