As Red Wings tinker, Anthanasiou back in the mix

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Sunrise, Fla. — One game, one loss, was enough to tweak the Red Wings lineup.

Andreas Athanasiou, a healthy scratch opening night, will play on the top line with Frans Nielsen and Henrik Zetterberg Saturday night against the Panthers.

Tomas Tatar drops down to the second line with Dylan Larkin and Riley Sheahan, while Justin Abdelkader skates with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

Steve Ott, who skated with Glendening and Miller in the opener, will be a healthy scratch.

“We just want to keep, without totally changing things, we want to keep tinkering and trying to just find the best combinations,” coach Jeff Blashill said a day after a 6-4 loss to the Lightning. “We think we’ve got good depth up front. Let’s tinker as we need to tinker to get the most out of every line.”

Athanasiou was excited about the opportunity to enter the lineup.

“I’m not going to stray from my game,” Athanasiou said. “I’ll bring speed to the line and open up ice for them. ... We can generate a lot of offense.”

The Red Wings wanted to get Athanasiou into the lineup quickly, and after Thursday’s game in which the Red Wings committed too many penalties and weren’t effective on the penalty kill (three Lightning power-play goals), the opportunity arose.

“There are so many good players in this room, you can’t really say anything,” Athanasiou said of being a healthy scratch. “It’ll be a little bit of an adjustment but we had some good chemistry in practice.”

Ott becomes the odd man out with the forward changes.

He played just over nine minutes against Tampa Bay and took three penalties.

“Otter is somebody who’ll have a big impact on the year throughout the year at different times,” Blashill said. “It doesn’t mean he’s going to play 82 games.”

Defense tweaked, too

Blashill also tweaked the defensive pairings, putting Danny DeKeyser with Mike Green, and Alexey Marchenko with Brendan Smith. The Jonathan Ericsson-Xavier Ouellet pairing remained intact.

“Again, just trying to find the right mix,” Blashill said. “We weren’t good enough. We did some good things as a group but then we just absolutely shot ourselves in the foot.”

PK not a concern

The Red Wings allowed three Lightning power-play goals, but it’s not an area they believe will be a problem.

“I’m not the least bit concerned,” Blashill said. “Now, if we go four games in a row like that, I will be worried. ...

“One thing we didn’t do very good at all was winning faceoffs on the PK and that really killed us. We can’t lose that amount of faceoffs and have the amount of success we want to have.”

Staying out of the penalty box also would be a good thing.

“We can’t have that, you can’t do that in today’s game,” forward Drew Miller said. “You can’t give teams opportunities like that.”

Red Wings at Panthers

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Panthers won their opener, 2-1 in overtime over the Devils. C Aleksander Barkov scored the winner. ... G Roberto Luongo is expected to start for the Panthers.