NHL on NBCSN: Will Blashill be part of Red Wings’ future?

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

When you start the season with one win in your opening 10 games and you’re Jeff Blashill, your seat will be quite warm. Blashill’s future with the Detroit Red Wings was already in jeopardy, even going back to the end of the last season, but since that slow start they’ve won 13 of their last 21 games and taken points in 15 of them. That run has put them three points out of a wild card spot in a jumbled Eastern Conference.

With the way the Red Wings have played and the way some of their younger players like Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Dennis Cholowski, Tyler Bertuzzi, and a pre-injury Anthony Mantha have taken strides forward through 31 games, the hot seat talk around Blashill has quieted for now. But as he coaches in the final year of his current contract, who’s behind the Detroit bench in 2019-20 still remains a big question.

[WATCH LIVE – 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Blashill wanted his team to be “miserable” to play against on a nightly basis, hence the “sixty minutes of hell” t-shirts that the players have worn this season. The Red Wings have 10 fighting majors so far, so there’s a definite toughness bred into the current roster. They’re getting balanced scored up front, a healthy Mike Green (3 goals, 16 points) is producing like the old Mike Green, and Jimmy Howard is upping his trade value (.936 even strength save percentage) with every start.

Those are all encouraging signs for a franchise in a transition phase. The playoffs may not be the end game this season, but when you consider the Red Wings’ current state, seeing those young pieces develop shows there’s light at the end of the tunnel. There are still decisions to make which could affect the “re-tooling” of the roster. Nyquist, Howard, Niklas Kronwall, and Thomas Vanek can all become unrestricted free agents this summer. They would certainly be able to bring in assets that general manager Ken Holland can use for the future if some of them waive their no-trade/movement clauses. But those are decisions that can be made closer to the February trade deadline barring some complete drop-off.

How this season ends for the Red Wings will ultimately determine Blashill’s fate. Should Holland feel the need to make a change, it could be an easy search for a successor with Dan Bylsma already there as an assistant — an assistant that Blashill wanted after they worked together at the 2018 IIHF World Championship.

For now, the progress is there under Blashill, and what once was a hot seat has now cooled considerably.

John Walton (play-by-play) and AJ Mleczko (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Red Wings’ Kronwall delivers devastating, questionable hit on Islanders’ Lee

Sportsnet
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No one walks the clean hit/dirty hit tightrope like Niklas Kronwall.

There are several montages on YouTube of Kronwall Kronwalling opponents. Some of them are hard but clean hits. Others are, well, questionable at best and there’s another one to add to that column from Saturday night.

With the Detroit Red Wings up 2-0 in the first period, Kronwall lined up Anders Lee of the New York Islanders, who was picking up a loose puck on along the boards in the neutral zone. Like many of Kronwall’s hits, it was a devastating thump.

Here’s the hit:

Lee’s head appears to be the principal point of contact and he was forced to leave the game.

UPDATE: Lee did not come out to start the second period but returned later in the frame

The comments section is going to be full of, ‘Lee needs to keep his head up.’

That is true. The player has a responsibility to protect himself.

But what is also true is this: Just because a guy’s head is down doesn’t mean there’s free rein to pulverize his brain.

Kronwall had some time to change how he was going to hit Lee, either the angle or the magnitude of the force of it.

Josh Bailey went for retribution later in the period, first getting a slew foot in on Kronwall and then fighting Dylan Larkin.

Lee leads the Islanders with 11 goals and is tied with Josh Bailey for the most points with 22.

Time will tell, but you have to imagine that George Parros and the Department of Player Safety will give this one a long look.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Red Wings’ Bertuzzi suspended two games for punch

NHL
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An ill-advised knuckle sandwich thrown while on his own bench has cost Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi two games.

Bertuzzi was caught up in a fracas on Sunday night with Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert when the infraction happened.

Red Wings defenseman Mike Green delivered a solid check to Calvert, whose stick found its way onto the Red Wings bench.

Bertuzzi grabbed his stick and Calvert took exception, sparking a melee that including Red Wings forward Dylan Larking and ended after Bertuzzi dropped the glove off his right hand and punched a defenseless Calvert.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety labeled Bertuzzi’s actions as “unsportsmanlike conduct and roughing,” ultimately handing him the two-game ban.

The sequence can be seen here:

George Parros noted in his suspension video that the Red Wings weren’t merely defending themselves from flying sticks or bodies.

Parros also pointed out that Bertuzzi threw two punches on the play — the first while Larkin was tussling with Calvert and the second when Calvert’s head was down.

Bertuzzi has no prior history with the DoPS. He will forfeit $15,053.76, money that goes into the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Bertuzzi plays hero for Detroit in win on Wednesday Night Hockey

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The Detroit Red Wings needed a shot in the arm to get out of their recent funk and Tyler Bertuzzi was the man to provide the needed punch.

Bertuzzi scored twice in the game, including a goal with 6:53 remaining in the third period to make sure all the good work the Red Wings did in the second period of the game didn’t end up getting flushed away in vain while simultaneously ensuring an end to a four-game losing streak in a 4-3 defeat of the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday Night Hockey on NBCSN.

Indeed, Bertuzzi’s first of game capped off a stretch of three unanswered tallies in the first 11:04 of the second frame, with goals from Thomas Vanek and Andreas Athanasiou (a very pretty goal) preceding it.

That probably should have been enough to allow the Red Wings to snap their skid against a Blues team that has struggled even after firing Mike Yeo a couple weeks back. But as the clock ticked off the final seconds in the period, the Blues had already clawed two back through David Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko.

It’s the kind of thing that happens when a couple of undisciplined penalties come back to bite you. Both Blues’ goals came on the power play, which tells you all you need to know.

Buoyed by the momentum gained to finish the second, St. Louis emerged from the intermission and tied the game up 3-3 eight minutes in through Perron’s second.

Comeback complete and 12 minutes or so to find a winner while still riding momentum’s wave.

Alas, it wasn’t in the cards for Bluenotes.

Despite their best efforts to erase the three-goal deficit (and erase the memory of an embarrassing 8-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in their last game on Saturday), it wasn’t to be.

Instead, it was Bertuzzi who came up with the dagger, plunging it into the Blues with just under seven minutes left.

There would be no second comeback.

The Blues had plenty of time to let the five stages of (bad loss) grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — run their course. Their comeback — the loss notwithstanding — was a good sign from a team who could have packed it in with half a game left to play.

Whether it helps St. Louis going forward is anyone’s guess.

[RELATED: How active will the Red Wings be in the trade market?]

Maybe they can pry Jimmy Howard away from the Red Wings, as reported.

Howard stopped 33-of-36 in the game to give his team a chance. Jake Allen opposite of him wasn’t as giving. He allowed four on 31 shots for unfavorable .871 save percentage.

Detroit comes away back in the saddle of their rollercoaster season. St. Louis, meanwhile, is sent back to the drawing board.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Wednesday Night Hockey: Streaky Wings look to end losing skid vs. Blues

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Wednesday night’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings at 7:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Red Wings season has been a rollercoaster so far. They started the year with 0-5-2 and through 10 games, they were the worst team in the NHL (1-7-2). But they followed that up by winning nine of their next 11 contests. Now, they’ve lost three games in a row. Who are the real Red Wings?

With Henrik Zetterberg no longer in the picture, Dylan Larkin has been forced into a leadership role. The 22-year-old has put together a solid season, as he has nine goals and 21 points in 24 games this season. The speedster still has some work to do, but he’s looked good.

“He’s gotta be a great defensive player in order to allow that production to be enough to be a great player,” said head coach Jeff Blashill. “Very few guys can outproduce their poor defense, let’s say … and I think what he’s done is whenever he’s had to he’s reset himself, and make sure that he knows he’s gotta check for his chances. … It appears to me just a little more — I don’t know if confidence is the right word, swagger’s the right word, controlling the play is the right word — he seems to really, really be on top of it offensively.”

Andreas Athanasiou (10 goals, 15 points in 20 games) and Anthony Mantha (nine goals, five assists in 24 games) have helped carry the load offensively.

The Wings have also received some quality goaltending from veteran Jimmy Howard, who the Blues are reportedly interested in, per TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger. Howard owns a 7-6-3 record with a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage.

As for the Blues, you can understand why they’d be interested in acquiring a proven goaltender. Both Jake Allen and Chad Johnson haven’t been able to carry the load. Allen has been better over the last little while, but we’ve seen enough of him to know that darker times are ahead. Johnson, who has always been a backup goaltender, can’t be relied upon to win consistently.

St. Louis has already made a coaching change this season, as they let Mike Yeo walk. They replaced him with Craig Berube, but the results haven’t been there for Berube so far. They’re 1-2-0 since he took over, including an embarrassing 8-4 loss to Winnipeg over the weekend.

“There were missed coverages in a lot of areas,” Berube said. “We let that game slip away from us…I thought we lacked energy in that Winnipeg game, which I expected, but our brains kind of turned off too, which was not a good thing.”

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.