Filip Zadina's performance keeps him with Red Wings as they focus on his development
Detroit — Filip Zadina was in the lineup Sunday, playing his 10th game of the season for the Red Wings.
That was significant in one sense.
By playing a 10th game, that put the first year of Zadina’s three-year, entry-level contract into effect.
Coach Jeff Blashill had said previously that the contract situation wouldn’t factor into the Wings’ decision on what to do with Zadina as much as what is best for Zadina’s development.
And that continued to be Blashill’s way of thinking Sunday.
“That wasn’t ever going to be the overriding factor, or anything like that,” Blashill said. “The biggest thing is where is best for his development.”
In nine games, heading into Sunday night’s game against Los Angeles, Zadina has done everything he could to state his case to stay in the NHL.
Zadina had six points (one goal, five assists), with an even rating, and showing a better all-around game — especially from a defensive standpoint — and playing with confidence.
The Wings promoted Zadina when Anthony Mantha was injured and the Wings badly needed offense.
Zadina has done an adequate job providing it, and now with Mantha back in the lineup, Zadina’s presence could deepen and broaden the lineup.
“When we called him up, we needed him,” Blashill said. “He’s staying because he’s played well enough. What needs to do to stay is to keep building on his play. (Saturday) he played with (Valtteri) Filppula and Mantha. He’s on the power play.
“Keep being a big factor in games. Two games ago he was excellent, and last night he was good. Keep going between good and really good as much as he can.”
Defensman Mike Green had a goal and assist in the Wings’ 2-1 victory Saturday in Montreal, one of Green’s better games this season.
Green only has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 26 games this season, with a minus-16 rating.
Nagging injuries have knocked Green twice out of the lineup this season. But Blashill feels Green might be finding some consistency and confidence in the last few days.
“The last two games were two of his better games all season,” Blashill said. “He was more assertive with the puck, he won more puck battles. Mike is hard on himself, and when he makes mistakes, he beats himself up a little bit, and the team was playing poorly at the time.
“Mike has been one of the best offensive players in the league for a long time. (The last two games) he’s gone out and played with that type of confidence and swagger, and he deserves to have done so.”
The addition of Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou to the lineup the last two games has given Blashill options.
All four forward lines right now have a semblance of offense and defense, and deepens the Wings’ lineup and allows Blashill to play four lines without worrying about matchups.
“Where you get in tough spots is when you worry so much about matchups that you get out of your own groove a little bit,” Blashill said. “Sometimes guys end up sitting too long and other guys get overplayed.
“It does help that we feel real comfortable (about) four lines offensively and defensively.”
Getting players like Mantha and Athanasiou back was a boost for the Wings.
“A little bit two different animals in the sense that Andreas was only out for two games,” Blashill said. “But when you add a couple players like that, it’s certainly a big boost. From a confidence standpoint, a shot in the arm. You get two guys back that our guys know are real dynamic offensive players, and when they’re on their games can be some of the best players in the league.”