Red Wings prepare for rare noon weekday game
Detroit — You don’t see very often, and especially on a weekday.
But the Red Wings will play the uncommon noon puck drop when they face Columbus Monday at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s a holiday, so there’s that, but it’s still so unusual to be playing that early.
Athletes are creatures of habit, and try as they might, this game might throw some guys’ off-balance.
“It’s definitely different,” forward Robby Fabbri said. “It takes me back to junior (hockey) days when you play in the afternoons. It’s like any other game, you get used to it and get adjusted to the time.
“You go through the same routine — just earlier in the day.”
A big consideration for an abnormal game-start switch, such as Monday’s game, is the pre-game meal — and what and when to eat.
Hockey players, generally, will have a meal high in carbohydrates and protein some 2-3 hours before a game.
But pasta and salmon may not go down easily at 8 or 9 a.m.
“There’s obviously things game-wise that are different, (but) I would say in terms of body clock, this (noon) is the time we practice every day, and they’ve been doing it for months, so I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Both teams are in the same boat. They (Blue Jackets) have a little more travel involved (coming in from Nashville).
“Basically the meal you have, and the timing are a little bit different.”
The regular season isn’t even a week old, and the Blue Jackets are already in must-win mode, according to rabid fans on social media.
Two straight losses to Nashville, plus a trade demand from star forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, and a suspect offensive attack all have Jackets fans fearing the worst.
But Blashilll sees it from a different perspective.
“We know how good Columbus is,” Blashill said. “They have one of the best defensive corps in the league, two of the top-10 defensemen in the league (Seth Jones, Grosse Pointe native Zach Werenski), they’re extremely well-coached and they play hard. It’ll be hard to get (scoring) opportunities against them.
“We have to compete like crazy for us to win. We competed fine the first night (a loss to Carolina), but the second night we competed like crazy (a victory) and that’s the way we have to play in order to win.”
Forward Filip Zadina had two assists Saturday, setting up linemates Fabbri and Bobby Ryan each for goals, but it was Zadina’s defensive work that was pleasing to see, too.
Zadina was impressive in training camp hounding and stripping pucks from opponents, and after a subpar season opener, Zadina was much more effective Saturday at both ends of the rink.
“He’s stripping pucks, moving his feet, those (assists) were two huge plays for us, poised plays,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “I hope it helps his confidence. That line with him, Fabs and Bobby were great for us and we’re going to need them to be great all season.”
One noticeable difference Saturday as when Carolina tied the game early in the third period, there was no panic from the Wings.
For the past several seasons, and especially last season, the Wings would have likely fallen apart and lost control of the game.
But Saturday, the Wings stayed even-keeled and ultimately regained the lead, and earned the victory.
Larkin credited the array of new, veteran faces on the Wings, who’ve certainly strengthened the roster — forwards Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov, defensemen Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Jon Merrill, and goalie Thomas Greiss.
“I just felt a calmness from a lot of the new guys that we’re just going to keep going, we’re not going to get frustrated,” Larkin said. “We saw it a lot last year. We would start the third period and they would get one (goal) early and like they (the Hurricanes) did and that was it. We were in our own heads.
“I didn’t see that from any of those guys. We just kept going.”
Blue Jackets at Red Wings
Faceoff: Noon., Monday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: The Blue Jackets (0-2-0) opened the season with two losses in Nashville...The Blue Jackets are without former Red Wing LW Gustav Nyquist (shoulder surgery), who could miss the majority of the season...The two teams go right back at it Tuesday in the fast and furious NHL schedule.