Jason Brough


A final home opener at Joe Louis Arena, and the Wings need to be better


Granted, they were against two tough opponents, but the first two games of the season did little to arrest the pessimism surrounding the Red Wings.

Tonight in Detroit, the Wings will play their final home opener at Joe Louis Arena, and they’ll do it coming off back-to-back losses in Florida.

“We don’t worry about external expectations, our expectations are extremely high,” head coach Jeff Blashill said, per MLive. “Right now, we haven’t lived up to those expectations in two games. But the good thing is we get to work on Monday morning and get ready for Monday night.”

The Wings lost 6-4 in Tampa Bay on Thursday and 4-1 in Sunrise two days later. Combined, they were outshot 74-54 by the Lightning and Panthers. They host undefeated Ottawa tonight.

“It’s early in the year and we’re trying to do the right thing but we’re not really connected right now,” veteran forward Henrik Zetterberg told reporters Saturday.

The Red Wings have not missed the playoffs since 1990, but it would not be a huge surprise if that streak ended in 2016-17. Detroit has some promising, young forwards and a good, young goalie in Petr Mrazek, but its core is aging and increasingly broken down, and Pavel Datsyuk isn’t a part of it anymore.

The Wings will move into a new arena next year, after a great run at The Joe that included four Stanley Cup-winning seasons. Their final regular-season game at the old rink is set for Apr. 9 against New Jersey. Don’t stop believing, Wings fans, but remains to be seen if there will be playoff hockey after that.

A frustrating start for the ‘Canes, who’ve already blown a pair of 3-goal leads

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A three-goal lead in today’s NHL should not be overcome. Any team that gets one should be able to keep it.

Amazingly, the Carolina Hurricanes have already blown two of them. Amazingly, because they’ve only played two games!

Thursday in Winnipeg, a 4-1 lead ended in a 5-4 overtime loss. Saturday in Vancouver, it was a 3-0 lead that ended in a 4-3 OT defeat.

“We’ve let two points slip now,” said forward Jordan Staal, per the club’s website. “It’s a matter of learning from it. We’ve got to find ways to win. We’ve done some good things throughout these two games, but we haven’t finished strong. We have to find a way to do that.”

The ‘Canes entered the season as a playoff dark horse. Which wasn’t necessarily wrong, because there’s a lot to like about this young team.

But with a young team, there are going to be mistakes.

“I felt like we had the game under control,” goalie Eddie Lack said after the Vancouver defeat. “We played a good team game, but individual mistakes, giving the puck away, and I should have had the first one.”

Goaltending, of course, was an issue for the ‘Canes last season. Yet after finishing with the league’s second-lowest team save percentage (.902), they brought back the same tandem of Lack with Cam Ward, the latter signing a two-year extension to remain with the only NHL team he’s ever played for.

Against the Jets, Ward allowed five goals on just 26 shots. Which wasn’t very promising.

The ‘Canes play the third game of their six-game, season-opening road trip on Tuesday in Edmonton. After that, it’s visits to Calgary, Philadelphia, and Detroit, before finally playing a home game on Oct. 28 against the Rangers.

The Flames are still learning their new system, and it shows


The Calgary Flames are already in a hole. They’ve played three games and only managed to get a point. Not the best start for a team that’s aiming to get back into the playoffs.

But if you ask them, not a massive surprise, either.

Following Saturday’s 2-1 shootout defeat in Vancouver, the Flames’ new head coach, Glen Gulutzan, talked about the challenges his squad was facing.

“We’re learning a lot of new things,” said Gulutzan. “We’re doing a lot of things different. You have to believe in it, right? You have to believe and go through the process of it. For us, that’s real important. We’re starting new. We don’t have the luxury of three or four training camps under our belts.”

Gulutzan, of course, replaced Bob Hartley after last season’s 12th-place finish in the Western Conference. The GM, Brad Treliving, didn’t like the “style” the Flames played under Hartley; hence, all the “new things” the players are trying to learn under Gulutzan.

“I think that people that know hockey know there is an adjustment period with a new coach and with new systems,” goalie Chad Johnson said, per the Calgary Herald. “We all want to come out right away and be as strong as the Chicago Blackhawks and the L.A. Kings. But they’ve been together for five or six years with the same coach and the same systems. There’s an adjustment period, especially for this group. Everybody has to be patient.”

Prior to the loss in Vancouver, the Flames had dropped a pair in regulation to the Oilers, getting outscored by a combined 12-7. It’s still very early, but there’s a hint of a potential goaltending controversy. Brian Elliott, the starter, was ventilated in the two games against Edmonton, while Johnson played well against the Canucks.

Gulutzan wouldn’t say who would start when the Flames host Buffalo Tuesday night. But against the injury-riddled Sabres, it’s a good opportunity for his team to notch its first win.

Another loss, on the other hand, and the hole only gets deeper.

Dylan Strome’s NHL debut may have to wait


Dylan Strome made the opening-night roster, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll make his NHL debut when the Coyotes host Philadelphia in their season opener on Saturday.

Per Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports, Strome is likely to be a healthy scratch against the Flyers. The 19-year-old forward is understandably disappointed that he might not be playing, but says he’s still happy to be in the NHL and will just wait for his opportunity.

Strome, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft (after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel), is still eligible to be sent back to his junior team in Erie. However, as a teenage CHL product, he cannot be assigned to the AHL.

In addition to Strome, the Coyotes’ roster features three other highly touted youngsters who have yet to play an NHL game: 20-year-old Christian Dvorak, 19-year-old Lawson Crouse, and 18-year-old Jakob Chychrun.

Dvorak, Crouse, and Chychrun could all play Saturday. The Coyotes’ second game goes Tuesday in Ottawa, the first stop of a six-game road trip.

Laurent Dauphin, in case you’re wondering, is a 21-year-old center who spent most of last season in the AHL, but got into eight games for the Coyotes (1G, 0A).

Video: Former NHLer Wolski suffers serious neck injury in KHL game


Former NHL forward Wojtek Wolski suffered a serious injury during a KHL game Thursday in Russia.

Wolski, who plays for Magnitogorsk Metallurg, crashed into the boards and is reportedly out for the season with two broken cervical vertebrae (the vertebrae of the neck), spinal cord trauma, and a concussion.

As you can see in the video, Wolski had to be taken off on a stretcher. He was immediately hospitalized but will not require surgery, according to Postmedia.

“I never thought I’d say I got lucky after breaking my neck,” Wolski told TSN’s Gino Reda, per Postmedia. “But it really could have been a lot worse. (I’m) staying positive and hoping to make a full quick recovery sometime late this season.”

Wolski, 30, played 451 NHL games for the Avalanche, Coyotes, Rangers, Panthers, and Capitals.