Red Wings open rare break in schedule with spirited practice

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — This season hasn’t been entirely enjoyable for the Red Wings, given how the losses have mounted.

In particular, the month of November had a lot of games, few breaks — and lots of losses.

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin is held by New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy in the second period Monday night.

So, as the Red Wings began a rare, four-day break between games Tuesday with an intense practice, it was a chance to “kind of hit the reset button,” forward Luke Glendening said.

“A good time to be together and just to get back to basics here,” Glendening said.

Several players after Monday’s loss to the New York Islanders, along with coach Jeff Blashill, talked about the need to work hard in practice this week — but also bring a level of fun, enthusiasm and enjoyment into the locker room.

Let’s face it, fun has been in short supply considering all the defeats.

But this week will be a good opportunity to loosen up a bit.

“For sure, it’s not easy when you’re losing every week to come in with a good attitude,” Glendening said. “Maybe these four days will be good for us in terms of just we don’t have any games and we can have some on the ice and have some fun together, and have renewed energy.”

The Wings practiced for nearly 90 minutes Tuesday, about 30 more than what they’d normally do with a typical schedule.

But the intensity was consistent from start to finish, and players lingered on the ice after practice was done.

“Positive energy is an important thing,” Blashill said. “It’s important to your group. If you mope around, it’s hard to play at a high level.

“We have a great opportunity to play and coach in the NHL and a great opportunity to get better. Our guys took a great approach and we worked real hard, we had fun working.

“Having fun sometimes means enjoying the grind of the NHL, and the work you have to put into it and enjoying the competitiveness of the NHL.”

Despite Monday’s 4-1 loss, Blashill felt the Wings played a fine game for the most part. It was a game the Wings could build on, and that helped everyone’s mood.

“From the coaching staff perspective, I don’t have to walk around here and be mad at everybody and be dark and gloomy,” Blashill said. “We’re going to try to get better. We’re going to look at some areas where we can improve. We have a week here where we don’t play, which you never get in the NHL

“We’re going to reset a little bit, a bit like training camp. Let’s pick three or four areas where we make sure we’re better. But I don’t have to walk around and act like we didn’t play good just because we lost. That’s not what happened, we played good. We’ve played pretty well the last number of games, with the exception of a terrible game against Toronto, and got no results to show for it.”

Roster moves

Following Tuesday's practice the Wings assigned forwards Taro Hirose and Filip Zadina to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The move might be tied to the Wings having no games until Saturday — while Grand Rapids has home games Wednesday and Friday, so it’s a good opportunity for Hirose and Zadina to get game action.

Hirose has two goals and five assists in 23 games, while Zadina has two assists in five games since his call-up. Zadina has seven goals and six assists with the Griffins.

The moves might have something to do with the health of Justin Abdelkader (upper body), who participated in Tuesday’s practice.

Abdelkader has been out since Nov. 10, though he has been able to skate regularly.

“He’s getting closer for sure,” Blashill said. “(Tueday) was the first time he skated with our team, he wasn’t necessarily full (contact) but it was closer. I’m hoping he can go close to full practice (Wednesday), and if he can go full either (Wednesday or Friday), he’d be potential at some point over the next week.”

Abdelkader might be ready for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh.

Twitter: @tkulfan