Detroit – Tyler Bertuzzi and Andreas Athanasiou have begun a routine before every game.
To get each other pumped up and motivated, they’ll get on each other about making an impact on the game, to be a factor.
On Wednesday night it worked for both of them.
Both of them scored – Athanasiou actually had two goals, including the game-winner in overtime – as the Red Wings defeated Boston 3-2.
“The last few games I always tell him to do something out there,” Bertuzzi said. “Just get on his nerves. He laughs it off, then he scores two, so it works.”
Athanasiou explained the pregame routine as simply trying to push each other.
“We kind of joke around with each other, trying to get each other pumped up,” Athanasiou said. “Any time he goes out for a shift I’ll say, ‘Show me something’, and he’ll say, ‘Do something out there.’
“It’s a good way to kind of get us going and help the team.”
Athanasiou’s two goals gave him a team-high nine for the season. Bertuzzi’s goal gave him six, and he was singled out by coach Jeff Blashill as one of the better Wings on the ice against the Bruins.
“Bert was real good almost the whole night, not without mistake, but he was real good almost the whole night,” said Blashill, who also mentioned the impact of the line with Bertuzzi, Luke Glendening and Michael Rasmussen. “They did what they can do. They hung on to the puck, came up with turnovers, hounded the puck.”
Bertuzzi said the line had good chemistry against Boston.
“We played pretty well,” Bertuzzi said. “We got it deep when we could, grinded it and we had a couple of good opportunities. If we keep doing the right things, they’ll start going in for us.”
Athanasiou seems to be having a breakout season. Consistency has been an issue in Athanasiou’s young career, but not so far this season.
“Early in the season he wasn’t getting points, he probably felt he deserved more,” Blashill said. “(But) from Day 1 he’s been engaged. His first practice in training camp was excellent. He hasn’t been perfect every day, none of us are, but he’s really carried that forward and he’s done a real good job.
“The nights when he hasn’t been at his best, the one thing he can still do is find a way to score, or to make a play. His B game has been better, and his A game is always good.”
'We can't be satisfied'
Thanksgiving in the NHL season is similar to Memorial Day in MLB. It's a good measuring stick for which teams are likely to make the playoffs.
The Wings are have 22 points (10-9-2) and are four points behind Boston and Montreal in the wild-card standings.
Then again, the Wings are only three points from the very bottom of the Eastern Conference (Florida, 19 points) in the bunched-up standings.
Considering the Wings’ terrible start – they were 1-7-2 after 10 games – they will gladly take this current spot, thanks to an impressive 9-2-0 run.
“We obviously got off to a slow start but we were having a lot of bad bounces, a lot of things didn’t go our way,” Athanasiou said. “We knew if we kept playing the right way we could be a pretty good hockey team. We’re finally proving that.”
Said Blashill: “We’re a lot happier now than we were at the start of the year. But we can’t be satisfied with being one game over .500. We’ve got to keep finding ways to win games. We have to get better at playing 60 good minutes.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard is 6-1-0 in his last seven starts, with a 2.10 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
… Including Wednesday, the Wings have had to rally in five of their last seven victories. “There’s a great feeling in this room right now because we know we’re always capable of coming from behind,” Howard said.
… The Wings recalled forward Christoffer Ehn from Grand Rapids.
… The Wings are tied with Anaheim and Chicago for an NHL-high with eight overtime games – including five of their last seven games.
Red Wings at Capitals
Faceoff: 4 p.m. Friday, Verizon Center, Washington
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
Outlook: The defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals (11-7-3, 25 points) have won four of their last five, and three straight. ... LW Alex Ovechkin (15 goals) and C Nicklas Backstrom (18 assists) continue to headline a strong offensive attack.