Updated 5x at 2:33 PM: The Red Wings will start Jared Coreau opposite Thomas Greiss as Detroit hosts the New York Islanders this evening (7:00 PM EDT on FSD/MSG +2/97.1 FM).
Tonight is “Fan Appreciation Night” at Little Caesars Arena, but some fans might argue that the best thing the Wings can do tonight is lose.
The Wings are attempting to let fans get in on the giveaways and prizes:
To kick off Fan Appreciation Night, we’re giving one lucky fan a shot to win a SIGNED Henrik Zetterberg jersey! #LGRW
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 7, 2018
In terms of the game itself, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill explained his rationale for starting Coreau to MLive’s Ansar Khan:
“He’s a pending unrestricted free agent,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We want to get as many looks at him as we possibly can. At this point we made the decision, let’s have look at him.”
Coreau is 0-5-0, with a 4.35 goals-against average and .859 save percentage.
Coreau will be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the next few days and will try to help the AHL club defend its Calder Cup championship.
Forward Luke Glendening will return to the lineup tonight after missing one game with an upper-body injury. Blashill said he mistakenly declared earlier in the week that Glendening was out for the season.
“There was more evaluation that took place and Luke is able to play tonight,” Blashill said.
The other topic of the day was not as easy to stomach, as this video from the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes. The Red Wings were counting their blessings after the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos…
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 7, 2018
Update: Here’s more from the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
Anthony Mantha thought back to his days in juniors, riding busses to and from games with Val-d’Or.
“When you are on your bus with your teammates, you play games, you play cards, you don’t really pay attention to the roads,” Mantha said Saturday. “Some guys are sleeping, probably. Just thinking about it makes me sick a little bit.”
Members of the Humboldt Broncos were on the bus en route to a playoff game when there was a collision with a semi truck on Friday night in northeastern Saskatchewan.
“I want to pass on my thoughts and my prayers to the families of the Humboldt hockey team and the community, the entire province of Saskatchewan,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I spent lots of time up there recruiting in my time and I know how much that junior league is a fabric of that province. I’m a father. I can’t imagine what they are going through.
“It’s a tragic, tragic, tragic, tragic thing.”
Mantha recalled being on a bus going through a wooded area during a snowstorm and seeing “four cars in a ditch one road trip.” He planned to donate to an online fund set up to help the families.
“It’s hard to hear,” Mantha said. “I looked at Twitter this morning, I think there are 14 dead and 14 still in hospital. Hopefully they get out of there with decent health.”
Update #2: Here’s more on the game itself from NHL.com’s Dave Hogg:
The Game: The New York Islanders will try to finish the season with a three-game winning streak when they play the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday.
After a 3-12-4 stretch that eliminated New York from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Islanders have back-to-back wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. A victory against the Red Wings would give New York its their first three-game winning streak since Jan. 7-15.
Islanders center John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has 83 points (36 goals, 47 assists), three shy of his NHL career high set in 2014-15.
Detroit is 0-1-1 after a three-game winning streak. The Red Wings are 6-15-3 since Feb. 18 and will finish with their worst record since they were 28-38-14 in 1989-90.
Players to watch: Tavares has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his past 16 games.
Red Wings center Dylan Larkin has three goals and five assists in a five-game point streak.
They said it: “We’re not happy about the way this season is ending, but we know we have a great deal of skill on our roster and we have seen the growth of many of our players. We’ll try to win tonight, and then on Sunday we will start getting ready for next year.” — Islanders coach Doug Weight
“Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha have taken significant steps forward this year, and they are two important pieces of our future. A season is never a success if you don’t make the playoffs, but we think we’ve gotten closer to the team we want to be in the future.” — Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Update #3: Here’s more of the Red Wings on the Humboldt tragedy from MLive’s Khan:
“Reading it, it’s sad to wake up to,” Bertuzzi said. “A lot of hockey players are sending their prayers to them and their families. It’s just a horrific thing.”
Bertuzzi, who played for Guelph in the OHL, knows the hazards of travel.
“I remember we were going to Owen Sound and it was a snow storm. Our bus kind of did a fish tail and we were lucky enough to stay on the highway,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s scary. It’s things that you know happen and it’s tough to hear that. I’m just praying for the families.
“It could happen to anyone, especially in the OHL, there’s a lot of snow in a lot of the cities. You’re driving through the night after the games. You don’t stay in hotels. You’re always on the road, whether it’s a snow storm or not. It’s scary.”
Anthony Mantha was with his parents, who are in town, when they heard about the crash.
“We were watching TV and we saw it pop up,” Mantha said. “It’s hard to hear, obviously.”
BERTUZZI SITUATION UNDECIDED: The Wings still have not made a final decision on whether Bertuzzi will return to Grand Rapids for the playoffs.
“No, haven’t heard anything yet. I’ll probably find out tonight,” Bertuzzi said. “You want to go try and win again but you want to stay healthy and have a good summer. There’s pros and cons both ways.”
Bertuzzi was the MVP of the Calder Cup playoffs last season when the Griffins won the Calder Cup.
“It would be awesome to win back to back,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s been a long year. I had an injury the last two summers, so I think that’s a big factor, too, that I haven’t been healthy for the summers for training.”
Blashill has said that Bertuzzi will need to get a little bigger and stronger for next season with the Wings.
Update #5: Here’s NewYorkIslanders.com’s Cory Wright’s game preview:
ISLANDERS SHARE CONDOLENCES FOR HUMBOLDT: The hockey community was in mourning on Saturday, as news broke of a tragic bus accident in Saskatchewan that took the lives of 14 members of the Humboldt Broncos, a junior A team in the SJHL.
The accident, the result of a collision with a semi-trailer on Friday, also sent 14 people to the hospital, including three in critical condition.
Junior bus rides were a reality for all the Islanders on their path to the NHL, so the tragedy hit close to home. The Islanders offered their condolences to the victims, their families and the community at large on Saturday.
Head Coach Doug Weight: “We’ve been talking about it all morning. It’s a sickening feeling when you wake up and hear that. Your thoughts are immediately with those young kids. The 14 that passed and I’m sure the injuries are substantial. The way it effects their family and the hockey community, it’s troubling to think of, it’s sad. One thing about the hockey community is that they’ll rally together and support these families. We’ll come together as a team, as a league we’ll see what we can do to help.”
Saskatchewan native Jordan Eberle: “It’s devastating really. I have a lot of ties to Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan hockey. It’s a terrible day. From my personal experience, I’ve rode the bus all over Western Canada, I know what that’s like. My brother played for the Melville team and I know a lot of people who have gone through a lot of those organizations. It’s a sad a day. It’s something that shouldn’t happen.”