The Detroit Red Wings’ quest to qualify for the NHL playoffs for the first time in a half-decade begins Thursday night.
The Red Wings, who have finished fifth or worse in the NHL’s Atlantic Division each season since 2016, kick off the 2021-22 campaign against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning, at Little Caesars Arena. Unfortunately for Detroit fans, NHL betting odds don’t offer much hope for improvement this season.
Detroit's regular-season opener is at 7:30 p.m. ET, with Bally Sports Detroit and ESPN+ carrying the game live.
Red Wings Face Difficult Playoff Odds
Michigan sportsbooks are not keen on the Red Wings’ postseason chances, with Detroit ranking at or near the bottom in NHL futures odds.
The Red Wings are tied for the second-worst Stanley Cup odds at BetMGM Michigan (+15000), and the same at Caesars Sportsbook as of Tuesday afternoon. DraftKings Sportsbook Michigan also has them at +15000 with five teams having worse odds, and FanDuel Sportsbook Michigan has Detroit at +10000.
Detroit’s division title odds aren’t much rosier, ranging from +8500 (FanDuel Sportsbook Michigan) to +15000 (BetMGM Michigan) for those partaking in Michigan online gambling.
As far as Eastern Conference championship odds, Detroit sits between +5000 (FanDuel) to +10000 (DraftKings). Those odds place the Red Wings among the bottom four teams in the 16-team conference.
Who to Watch for in Detroit
The Red Wings have several players to keep an eye on in the year ahead.
Second-year defenseman Filip Hronek is coming off a strong rookie campaign where he led Detroit in points (26), while 26-year-old forward Adam Erne returns after sharing the team lead in goals (11) a year ago.
Hronek’s strong rookie season earned the Czech defenseman a three-year contract from the team during the offseason.
Detroit also signed former Washington Capitals forward, Jakub Vrana and inked fellow forward Tyler Bertuzzi to a two-year contract extension in July.
Vrana, whose deal totaled more than $15 million, is on the NHL’s injured reserve list with a shoulder injury. He finished 2020 with 36 points and adds depth to the Red Wings’ offense when healthy.
Bertuzzi has 126 points in 208 career games with the Red Wings, including back-to-back 20-goal campaigns in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Both Bertuzzi and Vrana can attack opposing defenses with speed and precision when healthy, giving Detroit a pair of playmakers offensively.
That should come in handy for a Red Wings offense that was outscored by 43 goals in 56 games a year ago.
Jeff Blashill Returns to the Bench for Red Wings
The Red Wings will have continuity behind the bench this season, with coach Jeff Blashill returning for his seventh season.
Blashill, who has gone 172-221-62 with Detroit, is the third-longest tenured head coach in the 32-team NHL.
Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said the team’s front office decided to retain Blashill, despite the lack of postseason berths, because of the way he has worked with players.
Yzerman believes Blashill is the man to get the Red Wings back to the mountaintop. Detroit last won a Stanley Cup in 2008 and lost in the finals in 2009.
"I feel our team is collectively very competitive," Yzerman told members of the media during a Zoom call. "We played hard, and our players play hard, and that's a reflection of the coaching staff, that they (the staff) have the respect of the players and that was important.
“… It’s important to have a coach that has a calmness and a willingness and patience to have these younger players go through the growing pains of playing in the NHL."