Djoos excited about getting into Red Wings lineup
Nobody was more eager to get on the ice Friday and play than defenseman Christian Djoos.
Acquired on waivers Jan. 9 from Anaheim, Djoos was unavailable to practice while quarantining.
Djoos, 26, was able to get on the ice this week, but the Red Wings never did have an actual, full-scale practice.
When COVID-19 protocols took a bite out of the Red Wings lineup, coach Jeff Blashill put Djoos into the lineup, never mind the lack of practice time.
Djoos was beyond ready.
“I haven’t played a game in 10 months, said Djoos, who was playing in Anaheim when the pandemic struck, and the Ducks (like the Wings) didn’t qualify for the Return To Play last summer. “I just want to get started as quick as possible.”
Djoos played 14 minutes 6 seconds, 3:10 of that on the power play, where the Wings feel he’ll be able to provide a spark.
“I’m slowly getting into the game again, but it’s going to take a couple more games to feel comfortable out there,” Djoos said.
With his path to the NHL blocked in Anaheim, Djoos was excited about the opportunity with the Wings.
What made going to the Wings even more exciting was that his father, defenseman Par Djoos, played for the Wings in 1990-91.
The history of the Wings’ organization, the long line of Swedish stars with the Wings, and the reputation of the organization all were things Christian Djoos thought about.
“It’s special,” said Djoos, who reached out to former teammates Madison Bowey and Jacob de la Rose, who played with the Wings last season. “An Original Six (franchise), a lot of good players have played here. It’s a good culture. I’m happy to join the Red Wings. Everyone speaks highly of the organization.”
The United Center is one of the premier hockey arenas in North America, a bucket list item for sports fans because of the thunderous anthem presentation and raucous fans throughout the game.
But in this pandemic world, there are no fans at Chicago Blackhawks games.
Friday's game was played in an empty arena, with little piped in noise, and was a dramatic difference from a usual Chicago game night.
“I don’t think I noticed anyone in the crowd, it was eerie,” forward Bobby Ryan said. “There was very little crowd noise pumped in. The thing I missed most is the anthem, it just gives you a jolt of adrenaline that you can’t find anywhere else in the league.”
Ryan remembers being next to Red Wings forward Mathias Brome, who was playing his first game United Center, and feeling bad for Brome.
“I thought this guy is getting gypped in this building,” Ryan said. “For the history and excitement that it generates, it was different. It was almost church-mouse quiet at times.
“It’s a little deflating because that building gives you so much.”
Blashill viewed it as another example of how badly fans are missed this season.
“We’re all pumped to be back and playing but it isn’t the same, and I don’t want to pretend it is,” Blashill said. “Fans make this special and the energy you have when the buildings are full is what makes pro sports so very special.”
There were no additions to the COVID-19 protocol list Saturday, no names added to the five the Red Wings already have (Filip Zadina, Sam Gagner, Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Jon Merrill).
Blashill said Darren Helm, who returned to the lineup Friday, was questionable for Sunday’s game in Chicago.
The Wings used 11 forwards and seven defensemen Friday, but Blashill wouldn’t commit to a lineup Saturday when talking with media.
Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks
Faceoff: 12:30 p.m., Sunday, United Center.
Outlook: The Blackhawks (1-3-1) earned their first win Friday, defeating the Red Wings 4-1… Chicago RW Patrick Kane is off a typically fast start (3 goals, 2 assists).