Nielsen and Zetterberg not clicking, so Red Wings shuffle

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Frans Nielsen

Detroit — Third game for the Red Wings, third different look with the forwards.

Coach Jeff Blashill is still searching for the right mix to spark the offense, shuffling the lines once more ahead of Monday’s home opener against the Ottawa Senators.

Blashill reunited Dylan Larkin with Henrik Zetterberg, with Tomas Tatar on the other wing, while Frans Nielsen centered Justin Abdelkader and Riley Sheahan in Monday’s morning skate.

Andreas Athanasiou has been dropped to the fourth line, skating with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

The Nielsen and Zetterberg combo, at least through the two opening weekend games, failed to click as had been expected.

Larkin, with one assist in the two games and a minus-4 rating, was excited to be skating with Zetterberg again.

“I can get the puck out to him and fly through the middle and he’ll try to find me,” Larkin said. “It’s good to be back with him.”

Through two games only the line of Darren Helm centering Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek has looked productive and cohesive, with three goals and three assists between them.

The final period begins for Joe Louis Arena

This early in the season, it’s common to experiment and search for the most productive combinations.

“With having some new guys; you kind of find who can play with who,” Sheahan said. “But two games in, you’re not going to find it right away.”

Abdelkader was optimistic with what he and Sheahan can bring skating with Nielsen.

“He’s one of the best two-way forwards in the game,” Abdelkader said. “With me and Riley, we play similar types of games, heavy on the puck, on the forecheck and skate. We’ll go out there and see how it goes.”

Fans wait for the arrival of the Red Wings players on a red carpet set-up outside Joe Louis Arena on Monday. The Wings and Senators are playing Monday night in the final home opener at The Joe.

Larkin and The Joe

Joe Louis Arena has a big edge in age on Larkin, 37-20 years. So for Larkin, the Red Wings leaving after this season is significant.

“It’s everything in terms of the Red Wings and watching an NHL game, grew up coming here,” said Larkin of his JLA memories. “It’s all I’ve known. It’s pretty crazy it’s the last year but I’m excited to be on the ice.”

Larkin’s best JLA memory?

“It has to be the playoffs (last spring),” Larkin said. “Coming in here for Game 3 (against Tampa) and winning, that was a pretty special night. The Joe was rocking and it was a lot of fun playing here.”

Wings sign Givani Smith

The Red Wings signed forward Givani Smith to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Smith, 18, was a second-round draft pick in June, the 46th overall pick.

A potential power forward (6-foot-2, 204 pounds), Smith has two goals, three assists and 24 penalty minutes in seven games with Guelph (Ontario League) this season.

Smith played two exhibition games with the Red Wings in September.

Ice chips

Mike Green’s first NHL hat trick came after he previously had 16 career two-goal games.

…Green’s hat trick was the first by a Red Wings defenseman since Nicklas Lidstrom on Dec. 12, 2010 against St. Louis.

… Vanek matched his career best with the three-assist game. Vanek had accomplished the mark five times in his career.

…Jonathan Ericsson and Justin Abdelkader each had fighting majors in the game. The Red Wings now have four fighting majors through three games. They had eight all last season.

“It’s not just about fighting but caring for the guy next to each other,” Vanek said. “We’re showing that right now.”

…The Red Wings improved to 50-31-9-0 in all-time home openers and 22-12-2-0 at Joe Louis Arena.

Twitter @tkulfan