Updated 2x at 11:34 AM: It’s Bernier vs. Merzlikins, and no changes will be made to Columbus’ lineup:
The Detroit Red Wings weren’t thrilled with yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Despite the team’s furious 3rd period attempted comeback, the Wings did blow a 1-0 lead, their power play is 0-for-6 on the season, and the Bertuzzi-Larkin-Mantha line is still trying to find its footing.
Long story long, the Wings have some areas for improvement heading into tonight’s rematch against Columbus (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 the Ticket), and ColumbusBlueJackets.com’s Jeff Svoboda kicks off this morning’s proceedings with a game preview–from both teams’ perspectives:
If the early returns are correct, this will be a much more competitive Red Wings team than a year ago when Detroit won just 17 of its 71 games and was outscored by an average of 3.73-2.00 per game. The Wings split with presumed Central Division contender Carolina to start the season and then gave the Blue Jackets all they could handle in Monday’s game.
“I thought we competed hard, to a pretty good level,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after Monday’s contest. “We’ve got to keep competing at that really, really high level. I thought the first part of the game, we played real good. I don’t think they were playing to the top of their game in the first (period), but I thought we were skating really good. I thought the second half of the game, they seemed to find their legs and skated us a little bit as the game went along. So we’ve got to be better as the game goes along.”
New acquisition Bobby Ryan has three goals in three games thus far, while Troy Stecher, Jon Merrill and Marc Staal have helped solidify the blue line and free-agent signee Thomas Greiss has been solid in net. Defensively, the team has been more than a goal better thus far this season, ceding just 2.67 per game.
Blue Jackets fans saw the young talent up front Detroit has, with Tyler Bertuzzi having two great chances denied by Joonas Korpisalo in Monday’s game, while Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin also had their looks. Detroit is handicapped a bit, though, by COVID protocol absences, as another talented youngster in Robby Fabbri was ruled out Monday and was joined by fellow forward Adam Erne.
If the Wings follow their path from the season-opening series in Carolina, with the second day of a back-to-back on tap, Jonathan Bernier is likely to get the start tonight. He is 1-0, having stopped 29 of 31 shots in the team’s win vs. Carolina.
Today’s morning skate Tweets begin with this statistical note from the University of Michigan men’s hockey team:
The Red Wings also streamed the morning skate (who knows whether they’ll archive this):
The Blue Jackets posted a “CBJ Today” article from Svoboda as well…
The craziness largely took place in the final minute. It all seemed innocuous enough, as the Jackets led 3-1 with a minute to go when the Red Wings won an offensive zone faceoff. Then, hockey happened.
Anthony Mantha’s point shot was saved by Joonas Korpisalo, and as any player would do, Detroit’s Bobby Ryan took a whack at Korpisalo to try to knock it free. In response, as any player would do, Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski shoved Ryan, who clattered into Korpisalo. The puck then slid free and into the net, but that wasn’t the end of it, as Werenski quickly dropped the gloves with Detroit’s Dylan Larkin while Oliver Bjorkstrand partnered up with Ryan.
The tussling was all over in about 10 seconds, but they were 10 memorable seconds. That’s particularly true for Werenski and Larkin, who grew up together in suburban Detroit, attended the University of Michigan together and remain great friends.
In fact, as I wrote yesterday, Larkin left tickets for Werenski’s family to be able to see the game.
“It’s pretty funny how it worked out,” said Werenski, who added his phone was blowing up with texts from family and mutual friends with Larkin.
As for Bjorkstrand, he also had a goal and an assist in the game. The fighting major was the first of his career, so it couldn’t have come at a better time, as Bjorkstrand finished with the famous Gordie Howe hat trick.
“It just happened,” he said postgame with a smile on his face. “It’s fun to get one of those. I’ll remember that.”
Stay tuned for round two on Tuesday night.
The Red Wings’ beat writers waited to weigh in, so the Red Wings said, “Hello” with this Tweet:
The Djoos is loose (from quarantine).
As of 10:55 AM, the beat writers still haven’t weighed in on the lines or starting goaltender, and that’s a little shocking.
It’s assumed that Jonathan Bernier will start, and that we’ll see few lineup changes, but we’ve got diddly squat from the folks who are supposed to keep us informed about these kinds of things.
Meanwhile, for the Blue Jackets…
#CBJ head coach John Tortorella says Elvis Merzlikins starts tonight in Detroit.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 19, 2021
No changes to the 18-skater lineup, Torts says, just Elvis going in net. #CBJ— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 19, 2021
Update #2: Finally:
D Christian Djoos (No. 44) joined #RedWings for the morning skate today after being in quarantine for 10 days. Blashill said he might be available this weekend and could help the power play. He didn’t reveal any possible lineup changes tonight vs. CBJ. Bernier expected to start.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) January 19, 2021