Red Wings dogged by three games in three days
Detroit — Playing three games over a three-day span is normal in junior hockey, even in the minor league level.
Not in the NHL.
Except for extreme rare occurrences, such as what the Red Wings are about to encounter.
The schedule didn’t originally have it this way, but the postponement of the game Dec. 19 in Carolina — due to poor ice conditions — led to this fix.
With the Red Wings already on the schedule originally to play in Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday, the make-up game was scheduled for Monday.
But before those two games, Sunday the Red Wings host the Wild (12:30 p.m./NBC-Channel 4).
So, suddenly, the Red Wings have a three-game in a three-day stretch as the regular season winds down.
“I’ve coached tons of three-in-threes in the American League (with Grand Rapids) and we won a lot of those third games,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s not a barrier to success whatsoever.”
The key, said Blashill, is not to let it become a mental barrier.
“We’ll make sure to make it clear to our guys there are no excuses whatsoever and, two, you have to make sure you do a good job of playing your people,” Blashill said. “As you go deeper in that three-in-three, you make sure you’re playing all of your people.”
For a lot of players on this Red Wings roster, they haven’t participated in such a scheduling quirk since their minor pro days.
“None of us have experienced it at this level,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s nice we have the game Sunday at 12:30 so we can get in (to Raleigh) at a decent time.
“We have to make sure we’re taking care of our bodies and we’re getting ready. It’s a lot of hockey coming up, so we have to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves.”
Said Andreas Athanasiou: “Fueling the body is such a big thing, and getting plenty of rest. Any chance you have of getting rest, you have to take it.”
The Red Wings have had a mild rivalry for several years now, but things were ratcheted Friday with scrums throughout the game and Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha both getting into fights.
Mantha didn’t like Tampa’s Greg McKegg’s hit on Dylan Larkin along the boards in the second period and fought McKegg.
Mantha was called for a fighting major, an instigating minor, and a 10-minute misconduct. Not having him on the ice for that segment of time didn’t help the Red Wings, but Mantha’s willigness to stick up for a teammate was well received.
“Anthony’s done a great job,” Abdelkader said. “He’s big, physical and can stand up for himself and for his teammates. He can hold his own. That was good to see.
“Obviously the crowd was excited about it. It was tough to miss him for that amount of time, but we’re fighting for each other and we have each other’s backs so it was good to see.”
Wild at Red Wings
Faceoff: 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Joe Louis Arena
TV/radio: NBC, Ch 4/1270 AM
Outlook: Minnesota (44-24-6, 94 points) have slumped in recent weeks having won only twice in its last 11 games (2-9)…The Wild’s plus-51 goal-differential is best in the Western Conference.