Detroit – In typical Red Wings fashion, just as they’re getting a valuable player back into the lineup, they also lose one.
The good news for the Wings is, barring any unforeseen setbacks, they’ll see forward Andreas Athanasiou return to the lineup Monday against Philadelphia.
The bad news? The Wings will be without forward Filip Zadina for approximately two weeks because of a lower-body injury.
Zadina apparently was hurt during Friday’s loss in New York against the Rangers, played through it during Saturday’s game at Little Caesars Arena, but it only got worse.
Zadina, the Red Wings’ 2018 first-round draft pick, has shown marked development in his second professional season. Zadina has 15 points (eight goals) in 28 games.
“It’s unfortunate for him, unfortunate for us,” said coach Jeff Blashill, who has had to deal with a long list of key injuries this season. “It’s kind of the way the year’s gone a bit and that’s life sometimes. But it is unfortunate.”
Athanasiou will take over Zadina’s spot on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Athanasiou hasn’t played since Dec. 29 in Tampa because of a lower-body injury but has steadily increased his workload and skating during practice in recent days.
“Anytime with those types of injuries, rehab can only do so much for it,” Athanasiou said. “It’s kind of just a time thing, letting it heal and just making sure everything stays conditioned when you’re ready to come back.”
This season has been a monumental struggle for Athanasiou, who scored 30 goals last season and was expected to match, or come close, to that number again.
Instead, the season began with a nagging injury, Athanasiou didn’t score a goal until his 14th game of the season, and he’s been the subject of trade rumors with only five goals (19 points) in 36 games, with a dreadful minus-35 plus-minus rating.
Another potential bright spot for the Wings was forward Anthony Mantha (rib), who skated in an orange non-contact jersey Sunday.
Mantha hasn’t played since hurting himself in a fight with Toronto’s Jake Muzzin on Dec. 21.
Mantha’s absence has been felt offensively, what with Mantha’s 12 goals (in only 29 games) still ranking third on the team.
Mantha said he could return in several weeks after wearing the non-contact jersey for approximately 10 days, then getting into game-shape.
One encouraging note for the Wings during the two losses to the Rangers was the return of goaltender Jonathan Bernier in Saturday’s loss.
Bernier looked sharp and nearly matched Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist save for save in the 1-0 loss, keeping the game close with several big saves in the third period.
“I actually felt rusty in the first (period),” Bernier said. “It’s one of those games you have to battle. You have to get some games to get in shape. There’s nothing like a game (getting adjusted) for a goalie. It was demanding but I felt pretty good midway through the game; I felt better.
“The timing with the bye week was kind of a tough one, because I was pretty close to coming back in Minnesota (last game before the break). Then you have to miss four or five days off the ice. I felt pretty good. Sal (goaltending coach Jeff Salajko) did a good job getting me ready.”
Flyers at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena
TV/radio: NBCSN/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Flyers (28-17-7) have won six of their last 10 games (6-2-2) and are clinging to a playoff spot in the East. … C Sean Couturier (46 points) and RW Travis Konecny (17 goals) lead a balanced offensive attack.