Red Wings welcome news of Mike Green’s expected return

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Mike Green is likely to return to the Red Wings lineup Friday and coach Jeff Blashill is more than happy to have him.

Green, you may remember, was the team’s best trading chip leading to Monday’s trade deadline.

But a neck injury suffered Feb. 15 against Tampa forced him out of the lineup and made him untradeable.

So, Green, a potential unrestricted free agent, will finish out the season with the Red Wings.

And Blashill is happy to have him.

“From a coach’s perspective you hope to keep everybody and you want to make as good a push as you can to the playoffs,” Blashill said. “And especially on the back end. You saw when we lost Johnny Ericsson (last season), traded Brendan Smith (last season), it got harder on the back end.

“Keeping a guy on the back end like that is a real plus for us.”

More: Mike Green relieved to remain with Red Wings

Green completed the full practice Thursday and reported no discomfort.

And as far as putting the Red Wings sweater on, and turning the page on the last few weeks, Green has no problem with it.

“At the end of the day, it is what it is,” Green said. “I’m here and focused and I’m happy. So move forward.

“Anytime you get a chance to get back in the lineup, it’s a good feeling. I can’t wait.”

The Red Wings need offense these days, and Green is capable of brings the ability to create some of it.

A key reason he was so highly sought — before the injury — at the deadline was because of his ability to shoot and pass the puck, and quarterback the power play.

“He brings offense in a variety of ways,” Blashill said. “One, he’s on the power play. He’s a weapon up top. Another is him jumping into the play. He really pushes it up the ice.

“But he also has the ability to break out and make outlet passes. He’s one of our best passers for sure.”

The knock was always the defensive aspect of the game, but Blashill doesn’t see that anymore.

“He’s become a top-4 defenseman in the NHL on any team and when I say become, it’s because he’s really built his defensive game as well,” Blashill said. “He’s a big piece for us.”

Green insisted several times Thursday it will not be awkward to return to the Red Wings’ lineup, knowing a trade was likely to happen – Green even waved his no-trade to go to several teams, believed to be Tampa and Washington.

But Blashill feels Green can get past any strong feelings, also, for the Red Wings organization.

“The No. 1 thing for him is he loves being a Red Wing,” Blashill said. “He loves being here, loves being part of this group. He believes the culture in our locker room is special.

“He loves being here. As I said the other day, the hardest thing to deal with sometimes is the fear of the unknown. But, now he knows what’s going on for the next 19 games or so and hopefully into the playoffs.”

Need more

Green’s return should benefit a power play that has dropped to 22nd in the NHL (18.5 percent).

Blashill felt the unit was particularly ineffective in Wednesday’s loss in St. Louis.

Having Green’s passing ability should help.

“He has the element of the big shot (too),” Blashill said. “He can shoot it in the net. The more weapons you have on the power play, the better chance you’re going to score.”

Blashill has also shifted Martin Frk out of the left circle and into the middle of the ice.

“It’s nice to have a righty in that bumper spot in the middle,” Blashill said. “It takes a little bit to get adjusted to that spot and we’ll see if Frky can do it, or if he’s better off hitting that one-timer.”

Coreau awarded

Goaltender Jared Coreau has yet to appear with the Red Wings since being recalled after the trade of Petr Mrazek to Philadelphia, but Coreau was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for February.

Coreau went 4-0-2 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .951 save percentage and two shutouts for the Griffins.

Red Wings at Jets

Faceoff: 8 p.m. Friday, MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Notable: The teams meet for the second time this season ... Detroit won the earlier meeting 5-1 Dec. 5 at Little Caesars Arena ... Winnipeg acquired C Paul Stasny at Monday’s trade deadline and have been near the top of the Western Conference all season.