Evgeny Svechnikov nears another opportunity with Red Wings
Detroit — Is this Evgeny Svechnikov’s last chance with the Red Wings?
Maybe, maybe not. Svechnikov was reassigned from Grand Rapids to the taxi squad earlier in the week, and with the Wings searching for any kind of offense, possibly there’s a chance Svechnikov gets a meaningful, extended NHL opportunity.
With 38 games left in this shortened season, it’s possible the Wings give Svechnikov an opportunity to show he is (or is not) an NHL player.
With several Wings hobbled with injuries heading into Friday's game against Florida, there's a chance Svechnikov could make his season debut.
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Svechnikov is looking for an opportunity. When he gets it, coach Jeff Blashill said, it’s up to Svechnikov to take advantage.
“First off, he has to get an opportunity, and right now, he’s on the outside looking in. He’s here as depth,” Blashill said. “When he has that opportunity, he’s played OK. What you need to do to stick, is play great and make a huge impact.
“Usually, you’re going to have eight to 12 minutes, that’s normally what you get when you get called up, and in those eight to 12 minutes you have to be real good. Then, the next night, maybe you go from eight to 10 (minutes), and 10 to 12, 12 to 14, and so on. Some guys end up going backward, get a real good opportunity and go from 12 to eight (minutes), and then they’re not here anymore.
“We want guys who are going to help us win and make big impacts on the game to help us win.”
Svechnikov, 24, is a 6-foot-3, 208-pound winger who has scored 20 goals his rookie pro season (2016-17) in Grand Rapids, but hasn’t come close since.
In 20 career games with the Wings, spanning three seasons, Svechnikov has two goals and two assists.
“He’s a guy who has real good one-on-one offensive ability,” Blashill said. “He’s a great kid, works extremely hard, and he has to just put it together in the team game.
“We’ll see if he gets the opportunity. If he does, can he run with it?”
Injuries have been one reason Svechnikov hasn’t been able to duplicate his offense from his rookie season in Grand Rapids.
Notably, a torn ACL that kept Svechnikov off the ice the entire 2018-19 season. Svechnikov returned last season and had 11 goals and 25 points in 51 games in Grand Rapids (but no points in four games with the Wings).
“I just know he’s been hurt lots, and it takes a toll on you and hurts your development,” Blashill said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to crush him. It does make it harder and he has to climb over those obstacles — and he’s had a lot of them.”
With the Wings' struggling offensively, it would be natural to see many Wings who are lagging in points to possibly cheat defensively to maybe ignite their offensive chances.
But Blashill reiterated the Wings must keep their defensive structure as tight as it has been lately, and that cheating for offense would only hurt the team all the way around.
"It's critical we maintain the structure, that we stay with it and continue to be a hard team to paly against and continue to be good defensively," Blashill said. "That's how you win in this league. The teams that check usually are the teams that win, and that's what we want to do here, win long-term.
"In the meantime, you can't press for offense. You can't get frustrated and cheat for offense. If you do those two things, you won't score more and you'll give up way more. That's not a recipe for success. Our guys understand the recipe for success and we have to stay with it.
"Sometimes, it's not the easiest thing to do in life when you don't see good results, but it's something we have to do."
The Wings continue to get nicked among the forward group.
The latest to maybe miss a game is Vladislav Namestnikov, who didn’t practice Thursday and Blashill termed him as “questionable” to play against Florida.
As for Darren Helm (lower body), Helm practiced, but Blashill was unsure of Helm’s availability, after having missed the last three games.
Blashill also ruled out Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) for the two games against Florida. Bertuzzi has missed the last eight games.
Panthers at Red Wings
► Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit-plus/97.1 FM
► Outlook: The Wings (4-11-3) and Florida (10-2-2) split a two-game series in Florida two weeks ago. ... Florida has moved into the top spot in the Atlantic Division. ... LW Jonathan Huberdeau (20 points in 14 games) heads a deep offensive attack.