Renewed Red Wings boast healthier lineup, face Blackhawks tonight
The Red Wings team that is returning to Little Caesars Arena on Monday, after completing a six-game road trip, isn’t resembling that one that began this trip.
The Wings have forwards Robby Fabbri, Sam Gagner, Adam Erne and Filip Zadina, and defenseman Jon Merrill all back from COVID-19 protocol, and all made a positive impact on the road trip at varying times.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier returned from an upper body injury Saturday and had a big hand in the 4-2 victory over Nashville.
But, most of all, this Wings’ team is playing with the defensive structure that Blashill feels is necessary, if the Wings are to be competitive this season.
The Wings only won two of six games on the trip, but after opening with a lousy loss against Tampa Bay, have played well enough to have deserved points in each of the games.
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“You look at the Boston Bruins and every year they are one of the least scored upon teams, and they’ve got some talented players and you think of them as an offensive team, but really what they are is real stingy defensively,” Blashill said. “Certainly that’s our recipe for success. When you do a good job checking, you realize you get more offense, you create transition chances and you have the puck more, and those are things that create more offense.
“Guys are understanding that and totally bought into. We just have to build on it.”
Bernier feels the Wings have been effective since the start of the season.
“We had a good start to the season and when we lost all those guys (to COVID protocol), it seemed to take a lot out of us,” Bernier said. “But our last four or five games have been pretty good. We just have to keep doing the right things and good things will happen."
Luke Glendening returned to the lineup Saturday and had his career-best three-point game (one goal, two assists).
“I don’t think a lot of people see what he’s doing out there, doing all the little details the right way like blocking shots, great faceoff guy, he’s real hard to play against every night,” Bernier said.
… Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) missed the entire six-game road trip, and Blashill wasn’t sure if Bertuzzi would be ready to return to the ice this week.
… Fabbri has goals in three of the last four games, and has recovered well from the virus, which struck Fabbri as hard as any of the players who had it.
“He’s competed and when he competes, that’s when he’s at his best, and he uses his skill set,” Blashill said. “I was a little bit hard on him after (Fabbri’s first game back). The reality is, it was a lot to ask of him.”
Blackhawks at Red Wings
► Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena
► TV/radio: FSD/97.1
► Outlook: Chicago (7-5-4) swept a two-game series from the Red Wings (4-10-2) earlier this season. … Chicago has won four of its last five games, three of them in overtime…RW Patrick Kane is having an MVP-caliber season (seven goals, 22 points).