NHL taking precautions against coronavirus — asks to teams to close locker rooms to media

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings and the NHL — with the NBA, Major League Baseball and MLS to follow suit — are taking precautions against the coronavirus.

According to multiple reports Saturday, the NHL has asked teams to close dressing rooms to the media, on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control.

Tyler Bertuzzi's second-period goal in Friday's win over the Blackhawks ended a 14-game goal-scoring slump.

The Red Wings’ locker room was open to media members Saturday — before reports surfaced later in the afternoon about the NHL shutting off access.

More:Virus may have pro leagues cutting locker-room access

The NHL is advising teams to make coaches and players available in a central area, similar to where coach Jeff Blashill — and Pistons coach Dwane Casey — address the media during postgame and pregame interviews.

Playing spoiler

You look at the remainder of the Red Wings’ schedule and it’s apparent they have a great opportunity.

A tremendous opportunity, actually, of being a spoiler to an array of playoff teams, and would-be playoff teams, who are looking for a prime playoff seeding — or simply securing a playoff spot.

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The Wings are ready to accept that role and challenge.

“No matter where you’re at, winning is way better,” said forward Dylan Larkin, of playing the spoiler role. “We could be a big part of this and disrupt some seasons. We want to win here. We’re competitive guys, proud guys, so that is what we’re focused on.”

The Wings put a massive dent Friday in Chicago’s slim playoff aspirations, defeating the Blackhawks 2-1.

Sunday, they’ll face the Lightning — who have defeated the Wings a staggering 16 consecutive games — in the first of three games between the teams the rest of the schedule.

The Lightning have slim hopes of skating past Boston for the lead in the Atlantic Division, but also are looking to end a recent slump (5-5 in last 10 games).

The Wings ended a six-game losing streak with Friday’s victory, with one of their better all-around efforts.

“We went through those three games, or so, around the trade deadline when we were bad,” Blashill said. “Since then, we’ve gotten way better with our physical engagement, emotional engagement, there’s been more talk on the bench.

“It gives life to our team.”

Blashill also credited the Little Caesars Arena crowd for maintaining energy for a team that has struggled mightily.

“The crowd has been awesome all year,” Blashill said. “Our crowd has done an unbelievable job, and under extremely tough circumstances. They’ve been super supportive.

“Detroit fans respect hard work and physicality. We did those two things (Friday).”

Slump buster

Tyler Bertuzzi ended a 14-game goal-scoring drought with Friday’s second-period goal.

“As long as we’re winning, that’s not something I think about at all,” said Bertuzzi of the goal-scoring slump. “Obviously you want to help score, you want to contribute to wins. It felt good to get a goal, but it was bigger to get a win.”

Said Blashill: “Bert has been real good the last couple of games. The thing I’ve said to Bert all year is it’s nice to get points but I want him to be hard skill, because when this team is good enough to be in a better spot, we’re going to need him to be hard skill, not just a guy who scores on a bad team. He’s done a good job of understanding that and making sure he stays to his identity.”

Lightning at Red Wings

Faceoff: 5 p.m. Sunday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook:  The Lightning (42-20-5) appear destined to finish second in the Atlantic Division and get home-ice advantage in the first round…RW Nikita Kucherov (50 assists, 82 points) and C Brayden Point (23 goals) lead a talented offensive team.


Twitter: @tkulfan