Kulfan’s trio of NHL preview articles discuss condensed schedule, Wings’ possible improvement

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed three subscriber-only articles as part of his NHL preview. First, Kulfan discusses the condensed schedule that the Red Wings will be playing

In this newly contrived 2020-21 version of the division and schedule, the Wings will only play teams in this division — eight times each. And they’ll see baseball-style, two-game series to limit travel. No doubt, this will be different, with a bit of animosity thrown into the mix.

“It’s going to be physical games, you’re playing teams eight games this season (in the new schedule format), you can’t be on your heels, you have to put pressure on them,” forward Anthony Mantha said. “That’s the mentality I have to go with. It’s hard to tell at this point. We’re playing so many games in such a tight schedule, maybe the physicality will wear off a little bit. But there will be new rivalries created over this season, for sure.”

The two-game series format is definitely something that is intriguing. The format is popular in college hockey, and can certainly increase emotions.

Defenseman Troy Stecher, who played collegiately at North Dakota, feels the Wings can take advantage of the back-to-back series.

“Every weekend in college, you played a team on Friday and Saturday at your home venue or their home venue,” Stecher said. “We can kind of bring that style into our locker room, where if you lose one game, it’s not the end of the world. You just got to find a way to rebound the next game. You never want to get swept in a series.”

Kulfan offers a breakdown of every team and division, the Red Wings’ Central Division-playing status included…


Coach: Jeff Blashill

2019-20 record: 17-49-5, 39 points.

2019-20 leaders: Tyler Bertuzzi, 21 goals; Dylan Larkin, 34 assists; Jonathan Bernier, 15 wins

Pressure is on:  RW Filip Zadina. The Wings need more scoring, and if Zadina shows the offensive skills he displayed in junior, that would be a huge lift.

Rising star: C Moritz Seider. Whenever Seider arrives for good in Detroit, he’ll likely stay for an awful long time. He appears to be the top-pair defenseman the organization craves.

Skinny: Last year, the Wings were historically bad. This season, they’ll just be bad (and, obviously, noticeably improved). And, just good enough to squeak past Chicago out of last place.

And, among Kulfan’s NHL predictions

Coaches on the hot seat

Jeff Blashill, Detroit: The Red Wings need to show continued improvement, development during this long rebuild.

Bottom feeders

Detroit: The Red Wings won’t be historically bad, as a year ago. But they’ll struggle in a tough division.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.