Wings’ Sheahan makes move from center to wing

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — Listed at 6-foot-3, 222 pounds, Riley Sheahan has enough size to be a physical presence.

And size needs to have an impact.

Switching from center to a wing might provide the opportunity for more aggression and some more scoring from the big forward, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

“It wasn’t the reason we put him there, originally,” Blashill said. “The reason we put him there was to keep Double-A (Andreas Athanasiou) in a natural position just coming up and, we think, with his speed.”

Keeping Athanasiou in the lineup at this accustomed center position and on a line with Sheahan and Teemu Pulkkinen is intended to improve scoring with a potentially potent third line.

Datsyuk's return provides Wings scoring depth

Meanwhile, Blashill thinks the move to the wing should help Sheahan in other ways, agreeing that it’s “probably easier” to be more physical on the wing.

“It frees you up a little be on the wings to be in first on the forecheck and things like that,” Blashill said.

“And he’s such a responsible center man that when he’s back there, it probably takes away from his ability to be aggressive.”

Sheahan said he feels he has played well, but needs to score more and bring some belligerence.

“I feel like I’ve been playing a strong game,” he said. “Now, it’s just maybe be a little bit more physical and kind of get in on the forecheck a little harder and create some room for Athanasiou and Pulkky.”

Throughout juniors, college and the AHL, Sheahan said he never played much on the wing.

“Here and there just kind of random shifts,” he said. “It will be fun.”

Pulkkinen fined

The NHL fined Pulkkinen $2,000 for his second detected offense of diving/embellishment at 12:36 of the first period in the team’s 4-1 loss to the Stars at home on Sunday afternoon.

He was issued a warning for an incident in the Wings’ 3-2 overtime win in Vancouver on Oct. 24.

Pulkkinen also shrugged off the altercation he and teammate Brendan Smith shared at practice Wednesday.

“Just the one drill, we were battling hard,” Pulkkinen said. “That’s what we have to do. I like that I’m battling hard and he’s battling hard. That’s hockey.

“I’ve got nothing against Smitty.”

Smith was not in the dressing room when the media was, and had been announced as a healthy scratch.

Getting it right

Dan Rusanowsky’s 22 years as a radio play-by-play voice for the Sharks leads him to due diligence, including asking Athanasiou for the correct pronunciation of his name.

The broadcaster’s guide suggests it is “atha-nah-SEE-you” while a lot of folks seem to say “uh-than-uh-SEE-you,” Rusanowsky told Athanasiou.

“Either or,” the rookie said, with a big smile clearly uncommitted, and perhaps even a bit indifferent, on the issue.

“The first one’s a little more Greek.”

And that is good for a Greek surname, obviously.

“But it’s fine either way,” Athanasiou said, making clear his preference was non-preferential. “It’s been mispronounced by whole life.”

The announcer said he knows a little bit about that.

“My last name is Rusanowsky,” he said. “I get it.”

“Yeah,” the rookie said. “I hear you.”

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Red Wings at Bruins

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, TD Garden, Boston

TV/Radio: FSD, NHLN/97.1, 1270

Outlook: The Bruins (7-7-1) got off to a better start than their fire sale wheelings and dealings in the offseason would have indicated. But they have allowed 29 goals in their seven home games (1-5-1) and their fine coach, Claude Julien, is constantly looking for fewer mistakes in the defensive zone and turnovers… The Red Wings are 4-2-1 on the road, with three consecutive wins against the Canucks, Senators and Maple Leafs, dating to Oct. 24.