Red Wings: What the NHL’s pause means for Detroit

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The NHL announced Monday night that the league would go on a temporary pause, with all scheduled games before the Christmas break postponed. According to the release, players can return to their clubs on Dec. 26, with games resuming the following day.

So what does this mean for the Detroit Red Wings?

Well, it didn’t change up much for the Wings. Just a few days ago, the team announced a pause until after Christmas, with COVID tearing its way though the roster. Two games were postponed on the slate; a home game against the Colorado Avalanche and a road game against the Minnesota Wild.

The team already trudged through one game with a limited roster before the postponement, beating the New Jersey Devils 5-2 without a handful of player and their head coach, Jeff Blashill. Just a few days before, Detroit faced off against a team with their own major COVID outbreak in the Carolina Hurricanes.

Detroit’s next game is on Dec. 27, where they’ll travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers. Considering all that’s happened to this point, there is a chance this game doesn’t happen, although the Rangers have not yet had a major outbreak on the roster. Just a few days later, Detroit heads down the road to play the Islanders, who have their own struggles with COVID currently.

The league-wide pause through the holidays is essential for teams like the Red Wings. Detroit’s roster was already paper-thin against the Devils –  The bottom lines consisted of almost entirely AHL players, called up from the minors to fill in the gaps. With the new additions to COVID protocol announced the following day, the group of available players shrunk even further. If forced to play, the Wings would’ve had to call up even more players from Grand Rapids.

With a week, Detroit should have enough time to get at least a few players back in time. In terms of on-ice play, the only real change will be personnel after the pause. The Red Wings weren’t especially hot or especially cold heading into this week, so momentum doesn’t really come into play. Also, the current injuries on the team aren’t short term. Players like Mitchell Stephens and Troy Stecher are expected out until late February, so the roster can’t utilize the week to truly heal up.

Barring any flare ups of major symptoms, the Red Wings should be back to (mostly) full strength within a few weeks. The NHL’s pause makes things a little bit easier for teams with a bevy of players on COVID protocol.

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