Helene St. James | Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Red Wings emerge from a relatively light week for another series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The last time they met the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Wings were just beginning to regain some of the five players whose COVID-19 positive tests resulted in two weeks of quarantine. This time the Wings are coming off a four-day break that came after a two-game week.
MIDSEASON GRADES: A few disappointments, but not as many as you’d think
“It’s great timing for us,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s basically the midpoint. We had an off-day, a day just to lift — it gets you out of the every-day Groundhog-Day, especially at home here.”
Forward Dylan Larkin and defenseman Troy Stecher could return from injury as soon as Tuesday’s game at Little Caesars Arena.
The Wings (7-16-3) lost, 5-2, on Thursday at Carolina, two days after losing, 4-1, at Columbus. Here’s whose stock has risen — and fallen — based on those outings.
His stock is rising for a second straight week, thanks to a two-goal performance in Carolina. It wasn’t just that he scored at even strength and on a power play; the 21-year-old winger oozed confidence with the puck, firing it on net every opportunity. He had six shots on goal that night, nine total in the two games. Zadina (who missed two weeks in pandemic protocol) had a quiet start to the season, and his surge is great to see.
It didn’t show on the scoresheet, but Rasmussen was noticeable for the right reasons, especially in Carolina, using his 6-foot-6, 229-pound body to play with physicality. His skating has improved, and that’s buoyed the 21-year-old’s confidence in making quick and good decisions with the puck. This will be a big week for him, to see if he can get to the opponent’s net even when he’s up against an elite defense corps headlined by 6-6 Victor Hedman, 6-4 Mikhail Sergachev and 6-1 Ryan McDonagh.
He set up one of Zadina’s goals, and has emerged as a great option to play center with Zadina. Namestnikov has a smooth stride and moves the puck well, and he’s sound defensively. It looks like Namestnikov will stay with Zadina, and have either Bobby Ryan or Sam Gagner on the other wing, this week. In either iteration, that’s a line with potential to score.
BOOK WORM: Relish the history of the Red Wings’ successes — and much more
It’s one thing to put up with his defensive liabilities when he’s offsetting the points surrendered with his own production, but Djoos had a rough week. It was his turnover that led to the fourth goal in Carolina, which nipped any chance of a comeback. He did set up Anthony Mantha’s power play goal at Columbus.
He has generally had a good season, but Fabbri was another guy who didn’t fare well last week. He had no points, and was a minus-3. With Larkin sidelined by an upper-body injury, Fabbri slotted onto the top line, and was overmatched as the No. 1 center. With Larkin expected back this week, Fabbri should be able to return to being more of an offensive threat.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.