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Detroit — The biggest takeaway from this exhibition season in goalie Jimmy Howard's eyes?

It's the same one several other Red Wings have noticed

"The push from the young guys," Howard said. "A lot of the young guys have had a terrific training camp and preseason and now that we're winding down, you see a push from them and the veterans are responding from it as well."

No question, there's a long list of young players who likely will make the Red Wings roster at some point, if not right out of this training camp.

Forwards Andreas Athanasiou (age 21), Tyler Bertuzzi (20), Dylan Larkin (19), Anthony Mantha (21) and Tomas Nosek (23), defensemen Xavier Ouellet (22), Alexey Marchenko (23), and Ryan Sproul (22) and goalie Jake Paterson (21) are all young players who've stood out at certain points duing September.

"Most of them, they're coming into some NHL building for the first time and they're wide-eyed and checking everything out," Howard said of the prospects. "We (veterans) tend to forget as we get older in our careers and you see the excitement in their eyes and it brings some of the youth in you."

The skill level and energy of the young players have ramped the competitiveness of intrasquad scrimmages and practices.

"You see it in the game and practices," Henrik Zetterberg said of the talent level. "It's nice to see we have guys coming up every year. The last couple of years it was (Gustav) Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, (Riley) Sheahan, (Luke) Glendening, among others and now the second wave is coming up.

"You have to give a lot of credit to Grand Rapids (the Red Wings minor league affiliate), obviously Blash (coach Jeff Blashill) has done a good job with his staff there, and also the scouts have really done their job.

"The future looks good and it's fun for us older guys."

The competitiveness of the young players is something Blashill found appealing and beneficial for every player in camp.

"It's been a competitive environment for sure," Blashill said. "This group of guys, they've come in and competed hard every day. It's a reminder of the relentless nature of sports, you have be at your best every single day because somebody is trying to take your spot, whether it's within the team or the lineup, or spot on the team."

So far, so good

Johan Franzen was scheduled to play in this third game Wednesday in Pittsburgh and said he's feeling fine, returning from a concussion.

These are the first three games Franzen has played since the collision with Edmonton's Rob Klinkhammer in January.

"My head is great," Franzen said. "Concussion-wise, I feel really good."

Franzen continues to play on a line with Sheahan and Glendening.

"It's a good mixture of different (types of) talent," Franzen said. "Hopefully it'll be a good line."

Ice chips

Jakub Kindl came down with an illness Wednesday and will not play against the Penguins. Blashill expects Kindl to be ready for Friday's game against Toronto.

... Blashill expects to use Friday's game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, playing as close to an NHL roster as the Red Wings will be able to dress.

"Friday we'll try to get a lot of NHL guys in, as close as we can to what we'd like our team to be," Blashill said.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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