Green battling virus, status for Wings' opener in doubt

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Mike Green

Detroit — Fresh off neck surgery in March, when he left the Red Wings lineup as the leading scorer among defensemen with 33 points, Mike Green had been cleared this week to return to the lineup.

But, as Green practiced, he felt tired.

Too tired.

Some preliminary tests are leading to further tests, and the Wings fear he may miss the start of the season, general manager Ken Holland said Friday.

Coach Jeff Blashill added some information after guiding the split squads in three practices.

“Mike Green has a virus that attacked his liver,” Blashill said. "He's seeing an infectious disease person today. We should know more here, in the next little bit.

"But, we don't know how long he's going to be out. We don't know the totality of this."

More: Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall has always led; now it's more important

More: ‘I love swagger’: Blashill likes Zadina's ability, confidence

Holland said earlier Friday that preliminary tests had not yield a lot of information, and Green and the Wings were following up with specialists on infectious diseases.

Holland said more is likely to be known Monday.

Until then, Holland said, the team has no idea how long they will be without their best offensive performer on the blue line.

The development focuses even more interest on a group of five prospects — defensemen who were competing for the last slot in the seven-player unit — after Trevor Daley, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall and Green.

Dennis Cholowski, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Vili Saarijarvi and Libor Sulak are all prospective members of the lineup for opening night.

Sulak stands out

Sulak impressed Thursday night against the Blackhawks, with a responsible defensive performance and two assists.

What stood out is his skating and size.

Listed at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, Sulak is tall, barrel-chested, quick and often in motion.

“Nothing special,” said Sulak, when asked how he developed into a fine skater. “Just long legs.

“I don’t know. I was a good skater when I was young. I liked skating.

“I do hard work on my legs, and I do everything to be better, and better, and better.”

Both Kronwall and Daley offered strong positive reviews of his performance.

Blashill said one priority for the development of the 24-year-old from the Czech Republic is using his considerable forward speed to ward off attackers.

Sulak is urged to skate forward, closing the gap to the puck carrier, and then turning him towards the boards, Blashill said.

It is a much better play, especially for someone with Sulak’s pace, than maintaining position, or even retreating, and then turning at the hips to defend against a foray.

Early impressions

While Filip Zadina had a little trouble engaging the competition in his first game as a professional Thursday, another draft prospect on whom the Wings had an eye on played well in his second: defenseman Adam Boqvist.

The Blackhawks picked Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick, and the Wings grabbed Zadina with the No. 6 pick in the first round.

Boqvist has done enough, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, to make the organization think about keeping him in the NHL.

“I didn’t mind him against Columbus,” Quenneville said of Boqvist’s previous game. “But he was real good (Thursday).

“He’s got a real good patience level. I liked his gap defensively. He does make a lot of plays, and he’s got a good overall awareness level of the game on both sides.”

Twitter @greggkrupa

Bruins at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: None

Outlook: In third preseason game, the Red Wings will skate with about the same lineup that faced the Penguins Wednesday. It features prospects including Cholowski, Hicketts, Saarijarvi, Christopher Ehn, Trevor Hamilton and Joseph Veleno.