The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets both lost a key player over the summer, but that’s about all they have in common.
The Wings have a history of success, but the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom combined with the off-season departure of fellow blueliner Brad Stuart added new fuel to a question that has followed the team for years: Is the dynasty dying?
Detroit hasn’t made it further than the Western Conference Semi-Finals in the previous three campaigns and they have watch several of the key players from their 2008 Stanley Cup run retire. The Red Wings have done a remarkable job of developing prospects despite their typically unfavorable draft positions, but the salary cap has made it difficult for them to lure big-name outside talent to their franchise.
After losing out on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter over the summer, Red Wings GM Ken Holland seemed to downplay expectations by saying that the team might not make the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign.
Expectations are not something the Blue Jackets are plagued with. Even the face of their franchise, Rick Nash, gave up on the team and asked to be traded. With him gone, it would not be shocking if Columbus finished in dead last in the standings for the second consecutive season.
At the same time, the Blue Jackets managed to squeeze out a win in their season opener and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was particularly impressive in his Columbus debut. Bobrovsky had an up-and-down tenure with Philadelphia, but if he can continue to give the Blue Jackets solid performances, they might defy expectations.
The two teams will play tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Probable goaltenders: DET – Jimmy Howard (0-1-0, 7.32 GAA, .821 SV%) | CBJ – Sergei Bobrovsky (1-0-0, 1.85 GAA, .941 SV%)
Top scorers: DET – None (shutout in opener) | CBJ – Fedor Tyutin (0-2-2, 1 GP)
Detroit – Todd Bertuzzi (mono), Darren Helm (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Jan Mursak (collarbone), Jakub Kindl (groin), Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder)
Columbus – Ryan Murray (shoulder)