Filip Zadina out next two games; Red Wings hope he isn't done for season
Detroit – The Red Wings are still hopeful Filip Zadina will return to the lineup and play some games before the regular season ends, but time is running short.
Zadina, who hasn’t played since Feb. 1 because of a fractured ankle, was progressing and skating, but had to stop the last several days because of a “mid-body” injury.
Zadina didn’t take part in Wednesday’s practice and will not travel with the Wings for these next two games in Washington (Thursday) and Tampa (Saturday).
There’s only a little more than three weeks left on the schedule – it ends on April 4 – but the Wings are confident Zadina will return and play some of those games.
“That hasn’t been discussed,” said coach Jeff Blashill, of shutting down Zadina. “I’d love to have him available on Monday, the next game after we come back, but I don’t know that answer right now.
“He’s out through the weekend, staying home, with the hopes of getting better. He stayed off the ice today. He’ll get some physical therapy and if he can go on the ice (Thursday) he’ll on the ice and we’ll build from there.”
Zadina has eight goals and seven assists in 28 games this season, but he was playing some of his best all-around hockey just when he was injured.
Because he was injured when American League rosters were finalized near the NHL trade deadline, the Wings couldn’t place Zadina on the AHL roster to make him eligible for the AHL playoffs (if Grand Rapids qualifies).
So Zadina could miss valuable playing time during that part of the season, and missing time currently at the NHL level is also stalling his development.
“It was really unfortunate, the timing of the injury, because of the fact he was playing good hockey,” Blashill said. “He was gaining confidence at the NHL level. He was learning the tricks that he’ll need to be successful, and then he got hurt.
“Everybody involved – him, our management team and the coaches – wants to see him play as many games as possible before the end of the year. We’re hoping he can get back sooner rather than later.
“Will it hurt him? It doesn’t help. How much it hurts him is up to him, but it doesn't help. He has to come back mentally tough and ready to play great hockey when he comes back.”
The Red Wings will play in Washington Thursday, where D.C. officials said Wednesday they’re recommending all non-essential mass gatherings be canceled or rescheduled, all in the effort to curb the coronavirus.
The Capitals aren’t going along with the request just yet.
“At the current direction of the NBA and NHL, our games will go on as scheduled and be open to spectators,” said Monumental Sports, which runs the Capitals' and Washington Wizards’ arena. “We are in constant contact with both leagues and should they update their guidance, we will update the public accordingly.”
Blashill understands the importance of all these decisions being made on a daily basis.
“You don’t want to overplay it, you don’t want to underplay it,” Blashill said. “I got done yesterday talking (to reporters) and I wondered myself: Should I worry more or less? I really don’t know.
“Are we going to look back in two weeks and say it was a lot for nothing or are we going to look back in two weeks and say we should have been more concerned? Nobody knows the answer.”
With the increased speculation there will be NHL and NBA games being played with no fans in the arena, Blashill admitted it would be a strange feeling.
The Wings had the Little Caesars main ice available Wednesday but chose to practice at the practice rink.
“When there’s nobody in the building, there’s zero atmosphere and practice is usually dull,” Blashill said. “We chose to practice on the practice rink because it’s a tighter area and you feel like there’s more action. I don’t think anybody involved wants to play games in front of no fans.”
Defenseman Patrick Nemeth’s availability for Thursday is also unknown because his wife is having their baby.
… Blashill did rule forward Sam Gagner out for the Washington game after Gagner was on the receiving end of several big hits.
… Goaltender Jonathan Bernier didn’t practice but Blashill said it was a “maintenance day” and Bernier would be ready.
Red Wings at Capitals
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Thursday, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Capitals (41-20-8) are clinging to the Metropolitan Division lead, but have only won four of their last 10 games (4-3-3). … LW Alex Ovechkin (48 goals) and D John Carlson (60 assists, 75 points) are having stellar seasons.