Warning on the Wings/The Red Line

The temperature was below zero outside Tuesday and almost everything was postponed locally, which meant it was time for Detroit Red Wings hockey.

Because of work, all I saw of Detroit’s first two games was the last two rounds of the shootout in Columbus Monday night and only because I saw the game was still on when I walked past Keweenaw Brewing Company on the way home.

After defogging my glasses (it’s been happening a lot these days), I got to see Damian Brunner dangle the Blue Jackets to death in the shootout, then spend the rest of the walk home wondering who the heck Damian Brunner was.

Exhaustive research indicates Brunner wears a visor and is Swiss, which means we’ll never see him get shoutouts from Don Cherry on “Coach’s Corner.”

Further research may have to wait until the local winter sports scene calms down, which may be in about two months. Good thing the 48-game regular season goes well into April this year.

There’s just one problem. I’m concerned that I may not have that much time.

Basically, the issue is this. Over the last two seasons, the Red Wings have lost a Hall of Famer in Nicklas Lidstrom and one of the best American-born defensemen in league history, Brian Rafalski, and replaced them with ________.

Well, ask the Grand Rapids Press, because since three of the Wings’ top six D are already hurt (with a fourth, Jakub Kindl, expected back on Friday against Minnesota from a groin injury), because they’re probably more familiar with them than I am.

At least we have Jordin Tootoo, one of several acquisitions the Wings appear to have made to antagonize me, like backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson, a miserable failure of a sleeper play in my one and only attempt at fantasy hockey a few years back.

The good news is the Wings have some pretty good goaltending in Jimmy Howard. This, of course, didn’t help Detroit Tuesday, because the Wings scored their only goal with three seconds left and lost 2-1 at home to an average Dallas team.

Buckle up, folks, because there are going to be a lot more nights like this.

St. Louis is clearly the best team in the Central Division, which it proved in Saturday’s opener, a 6-0 disaster ill Michigan Tech hockey beat reporter Stephen Anderson congratulated me on missing so I could cover the Huskies play Bemidji State at the SDC.

The good news is the combination of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and decent goaltending puts them above at least a handful of teams in the Western Conference (I hope) and keeps them in the playoff picture long enough to overpay for defensive help at the trading deadline, sneak into the playoffs and go on a wild postseason rampage (or at least avoid the indignities of the draft lottery). Stranger things have happened. Ask the Los Angeles Kings.

In the parroted words of University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, “Chris Chelios isn’t walking through that door. Steve Yzerman isn’t walking through that door. And if they do, they’re gonna be old and gray.”

Then again, there are worse alternatives.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.