Goaltender Jonathan Bernier out, but Red Wings unsure for how long
Detroit — The Red Wings are going to be without goaltender Jonathan Bernier for days, or longer.
That’s the picture coach Jeff Blashill laid out during Friday’s call with media, implying Bernier’s lower-body injury suffered in Thursday’s victory over Dallas is a bit hazy.
“I would just say it’s day to day until I know more,” Blashill said. “I don’t know if that day to day stretches into a week, or weeks. It’s all based on the healing process and I just can’t tell you how long that’s going to be.
“He’s had (medical) tests and he’s been evaluated, and I would just say it’s one of those injuries that could heal quickly or could take longer.
“We’re just not sure.”
Bernier was lunging for a loose puck to the side of the net when Dallas forward Denis Gurianov and Wings defenseman Patrik Nemeth crashed atop Bernier during the resulting collision.
Bernier lay on the ice temporarily, then had to be helped off the ice, not putting any pressure on his right leg.
Losing Bernier for any period of time would be a costly blow for the Wings.
With a 8-6-0 record, a 2.78 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage, Bernier has arguably been the Wings’ most valuable player — as he was for the majority of last season.
Bernier, 32, is also an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his situation heading into the upcoming April 12 trade deadline is a key issue for the Wings.
With several playoff contenders seeking a boost in their goaltending, Bernier’s availability has been speculated upon.
Will this lower-body injury, and how long Bernier will be out, put a dent into trade talks?
Thomas Greiss took over for Bernier, earned the victory, and will likely get the start Saturday against Dallas.
Greiss (2-11-4, 3.46 GAA, .883 SVS) has struggled in his first season with the Wings after arriving in free agency.
But Blashill believes Greiss can turn things around.
“He’s a pretty strong, mentally tough type of person,” Blashill said. “I’d love to get him into a game where we don’t give up a whole lot of Grade A opportunities. He’s tried to get his game back in order and he’s gotten into games where it’s been difficult games for goaltenders, so that hasn’t helped him.
“It was unfortunate he got a ton of games when we had a bunch of guys out in that stretch (in January) there and our roster wasn’t as strong as it is today. That hurt him a little bit.
“But we have a lot of confidence in Thomas and he’s done it for a long time (in the NHL) and been through the ebbs and flows of a season. He’s know how to handle types of things.
“From an expectation standpoint, it’s stop the ones he’s supposed to stop and make a big save at a critical moment. That’s what winning goaltending does. So hopefully we can play good defense in front of him. It’s a real good team we’re playing against (Dallas, on Saturday) and a team that had us on our heels, so we’ll need good goaltending from him.”'
The Wings reassigned defenseman Dennis Cholowski to their taxi squad Friday, with the expectation Cholowski will be in the lineup Saturday against Dallas.
Cholowski, 23, the Wings’ 2016 first-round draft pick, began the season on the taxi squad before being assigned to Grand Rapids.
In 11 games with the Griffins, Cholowski has three goals and five assists.
Cholowski practiced with the Wings on Friday, and was worked into the power play drills.
“The reports have been really good,” Blashill said of his discussions with Griffins’ staff about Cholowski. “He’s done a good, solid job down there on a pretty consistent basis, and that’s a key.
“He’s improved himself defensively at ending plays, whether it be with his stick or his body, whether it be on the rush or defensive zone. He’s done a solid job on the power play, he moves the puck, moves the puck well.”
Cholowski’s potential on the power play always has excited the Wings. Blashill wants to see Cholowski carry over the AHL success to the NHL.
“He’s played with more confidence and moxie down there and he needs to carry that over into the NHL,” Blashill said.
Fabbri on fire
Robby Fabbri’s three goals Thursday gave him a team-leading nine – in only 22 games.
Fabbri missed time in January because of COVID-19, and it took him several games to get back his strength and conditioning.
But overall, few players have been as productive offensively.
“He competes hard,” Blashill said. “The very first day we got him he showed us he can score (two goals in Fabbri’s debut last season) on one shot. Some guys need tons of shots to score, and some guys have the ability to score on one shot. He does it different ways.
“He brings a good edge and competes hard. When Robby is playing his best, he’s super-competitive.”
Stars at Red Wings
► Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
► Outlook: The Red Wings (10-17-4) and Stars (9-10-7) conclude a two-game series. … The Wings are 1-1-1 against Dallas. … This will end a six-game Wings’ homestand.