NHL Central Division Misery Index: Detroit Red Wings’ new jerseys are for the bleach, boys

Detroit Free Press

Ryan Ford
| Detroit Free Press

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The day we’ve all been dreading anticipating acknowledging has finally arrived.

The Detroit Red Wings will break out their “Reverse Retro” jerseys Tuesday in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.

Teams across the league have been rolling out Adidas’ hit-and-miss program the past month, and the Wings are the next-to-last Central Division squad to trot theirs out for a game. (The Blackhawks donned theirs for the first time Sunday, and the Stars were scheduled to debut theirs Feb. 15, but that game was postponed due to Texas’ weather issues.)

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How to describe them? Most teams have several eras with different logos and colors to draw from — even the 20-year-old Blue Jackets got red-dominant jerseys this year — but the Wings have had essentially the same crest for 90 years and the same red and white look for that entire time. (Don’t get us wrong, the Wings’ sweaters are an objectively great look, especially considering the reds’ ability to hide a mustard stain or two over the years.) And so, while the Wings were one of eight teams to get a white “Reverse Retro” theme, the other seven were able to draw on unconventional looks, from the Wild’s insistence they are the true heirs to the North Stars’ green and yellow to the Penguins’ war with the Rangers and Hurricanes over who invented diagonal type.

And while Wings jerseys have taken creative license for multiple outdoor games — “cream” accents, metallic silver stripes, diagonal sashes — well, these ones just turned out … white, with their only color coming from the crest on the front, the numbers on the sleeves, the name and numbers on the back and silver bands on the elbows and hem. And we knew this when all 31 jerseys were unveiled in November.

But with each game that passed, there was hope. Maybe the Wings would keep the sweaters in the equipment closet for the full season? Maybe they’d fallen prey to one of the many delivery service delays striking the Midwest this winter? Maybe they’d been delivered to Joe Louis Arena instead of Little Caesars Arena? (Not that they could have been worn at the Joe; just going through the doors there somehow adds a stain or two to everyone’s jersey.)

And then, on Monday, the team announced their debut Tuesday via Twitter (with a follow-up wearing on Thursday at Carolina).

There’s no going back now.

But hey, perhaps they’ll grow on us; maybe the Team Mayonnaise look will pop under the lights in Columbus and Raleigh in a way it hasn’t in runway shots, online stores and Photoshopped tweets. Maybe we’ll end up ordering a new sweater anyway to complete our “alternate jerseys” collection.

We’ll just have to make sure to leave the mustard off our brats when we’re wearing it.

But while we eye a No. 54 jersey (for one particular reason), let’s run through the Central Division’s Misery Index in Week 7 (including Monday night’s game), from the least miserable to the most.

8. Lightning

This week’s record, goal differential: 4-0-0, +12.

Last week’s ranking: 1.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made three starts this week, allowed two goals, recorded two shutouts and stopped 79 of the 81 shots he faced, making him the most successful No. 88 in Florida in February since Dale Jr. stopped running at Daytona.

7. Blackhawks

This week’s record, goal differential: 3-1-0, +6.

Last week’s ranking: 6.

A good week for No. 88: Part II: Patrick Kane picked up his 400th career goal Sunday night against the Wings. (They weren’t all Sunday night against the Wings, it just felt like it, after those five ’Hawks goals in the third period.) He’s the fourth Blackhawk with at least 400 tallies, following Bobby Hull (604), Stan Mikita (541) and Steve Larmer (406). NBC immediately honored the 32-year-old by adding 10 Chicago games to its April broadcast schedule.

6. Red Wings

This week’s record, goal differential: 2-2-0, -2.

Last week’s ranking: 3.

Let’s chalk Sunday’s loss up to one bad period — five goals in 13:51, oof — and focus on the positive, even after Dylan Larkin missed both games in Chicago: The Wings’ wins over the Preds and ‘Hawks on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, were their first back-to-back triumphs since March 2020, and their first back-to-back five-goal games since March 2018.

Oh, and THE STREAK ended, as Christian Djoos’ goal with 93 seconds remaining in the second period Saturday was the Wings’ first power-play goal in 15 games and 41 man advantages. How long a stretch was that?  

Between Djoos’ goal and Jan. 28, the date of the Wings’ last goal with the man advantage (scored by Tyler Bertuzzi 7:26 into the third period of a 7-3 loss in Dallas), every other NHL team scored at least twice on the power play. The Sharks were the closest to the Wings, with two power-play scores (on Feb. 11 and Feb. 15), while the Hurricanes seemingly could not be stopped with the man advantage — 13 scores in 15 games.

5. Predators

This week’s record, goal differential: 3-1-0, +2.

Last week’s ranking: 5.

Two goals and an assist for Eeli Tolvanen this week, but the 21-year is still working on his mustache skills. It feels like a team that celebrates with a catfish thrown on the ice ought to have slightly better mustaches all around.*

(*Filip Forsberg excepted, because that ‘stache is glorious.)


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4. Hurricanes

This week’s record, goal differential: 2-3-0, -5.

Last week’s ranking: 8.

A good week for No. 88, Part III: The three losses in four days to the Bolts were tough, but the ’Canes redeemed themselves with back-to-back road wins over Florida — the first losing streak this season for the Panthers. The two wins in Sunrise were driven by center Martin Necas, who followed his shootout winner on Saturday with two assists and the winning goal in OT on Monday night. Now if only he could drive a Zamboni, we’d really have something.

3. Panthers

This week’s record, goal differential: 2-1-2, -2.

Last week’s ranking: 7.

Former Alabama star and current Detroit Lions fan base-tormenter Tua Tagovailoa attended Monday’s loss in Sunrise and finished in a dead heat in his vowel-off against Panthers rookie Eetu Luostarinen at eight apiece.

2. Stars

This week’s record, goal differential: 1-3-0, -5.

Last week’s ranking: 2.

At least the Stars picked up a win Wednesday, their first since Feb. 2. Beyond that, it was a rough week in Florida, including a 5-0 thumping by Tampa Bay on Saturday that wasn’t even that close and was definitely not the Stanley Cup Final rematch the Stars were looking for. (Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon — who had an assist on the Bolts’ final goal in the Cup Final decider and the St. Louis Blues’ series-winning goal against the Stars in 2019 — even chipped in a goal. So there was that.)

1. Blue Jackets

This week’s record, goal differential: 0-3-1, -6.

Last week’s ranking: 4.

After benching star center Pierre-Luc Dubois (before trading him to Winnipeg) and star winger Patrik Laine, coach John Tortorella is now going after … Zoom meetings? “I hope it gets trashed right away when we get healthy,” the Columbus Dispatch reported Monday. “When we get healthy and the world gets healthy and the pandemic is gone, I just hope this game doesn’t go to that virtual stuff.”

We guess Torts hasn’t seen the “cat lawyer” video yet.

Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford.

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