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Red Wings return to D.C. after a much better atmosphere than their previous trip, with fewer crowds than they did on their last trip

Red Wings return to D.C. after a much better atmosphere than their previous trip, with fewer crowds than they did on their last trip

As Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill walked from the team hotel to Capital One Arena Wednesday for the morning skate, he took an unpleasant trip down memory lane.

He recalled the incident more than 19 months ago, during his teams previous visit to Washington, when the NHL season was halted due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

I actually went to eat at the same restaurant where we saw coverage of the NBA making their decision (to halt its season) and the restaurant I went into was closed, boarded up, Blashill said. It kind of shows what weve all gone through over the last year-and-a-half, he said.

The Red Wings (3-2-1) will play the Capitals (4-2) tonight (7 p.m., Bally Sports Detroit), unlike on March 15, 2020, when the game was postponed.

I remember thinking about us being pretty certain we werent going to play, but there was no official word and then there wasns an official statement that we wouldn t be able to skate, and it took a while before the official announcement that the team wasn 't planning to participate, Blashill said. Steve (general manager Yzerman) and I had discussions at that time about potentially flying to Tampa, that was our next opponent. To think about it, there was no possibility that we'd have to play another game after.

Weve all been through a lot in the last year-and-a-half since that moment. I look forward to putting years behind us.

When the game was officially canceled, Robby Fabbri said players couldnt have predicted that the remainder of the season would be scrapped, too.

I think we thought maybe a couple of weeks off and wed be back, Fabbri said. It was much more serious than that.

(COVID-19) is still a thing in this world. You just have to do your part to make sure you are safe and away from danger, but sometimes you cant control it. Everyone has to deal with it as it comes.

On Aug. 1, 2020, the NHL began the season with a 20-team playoff in the major cities of Toronto and Edmonton. The Red Wings finished 2019-20 at 17-49-5, one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

Blashill described the situation now as significantly better.

We had gone through as hard a year as Ive been through professionally, at I hope we all look back to - sunk bottom, and organizationally, we started to move in the right direction," Blashill said. Last year we were better, and I think we have an opportunity to be better this year, he added.

Life on the road is much better now than it was in the past.

We've got more freedom on the road now, Fabbri said. We can go out for dinners and get out of the hotel and do things like that, which is nice, but you have to make sure youre following the rules in different cities and doing your part to keep yourself safe, he said.

Hronek returns to the lineup as a part of Hlonex.

Filip Hronek, a defensive veteran who has been unable to play since being ruled out of the lineup for the past two games, will be back in action tonight. Gustav Lindstrom (unidentified injury) is out tonight and possibly on the weekend.

When Fil plays his best, hes doing a great job of moving the puck, Blashill said. He handles it well, takes whats given, passes it to people when theyre open, and he lives another day if a need arises. I think hes always been and has been all year very competitive, and his decision-making defensive is really good. I believe he can be a great all-around defenseman who can contribute on the power play and penalty kill.

Greiss gets start for Greiss.

Thomas Greiss will start in goal, according to Blashill. Greiss scored five goals on 15 shots before being replaced midway through the second period of Saturdays 6-1 loss to Montreal.

He was 8-0-3 in his previous 11 starts, dating back to his most recent regulation loss on April 4. He had gone 8-2-3 during his last six starts.

More: Lucas Raymonds attitude, confidence, and optimism contribute to a successful start.

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