Wings' Stecher excited about returning to lineup, joining teammates

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Troy Stecher had never been out with an injury so long, so being out for the last three months because of wrist surgery was a new experience.

And not one Stecher would like to get used to, either.

Troy Stecher had never been out with an injury so long, so being out for the last three months because of wrist surgery was a new experience.

"You come in and become a cheerleader, super happy for the guys when they have success and equally as upset when  you kind of fail, or lose the game," said Stecher, who hasn't played since November 4 but is likely returning to Saturday's lineup against Philadelphia. 

"It was great watching and supporting the guys, but at the same time you kind of feel you're a bit distanced from the team. You're not in the rhythm with the guys necessarily all the time, although you're crossing paths with them during the day, you're on a different schedule.

"Getting back into practices here before the break was huge mentally, to be back with the group and excited to be back in the mix."

More: Filip Zadina 'felt pretty good' on Red Wings' top line, hopes for another chance

At a good time for the Wings, too. With defensemen Nick Leddy (upper-body) and Filip Hronek (COVID protocol) out of the lineup, Stecher neatly comes into the lineup.

"If he is able to get cleared (Friday, which is expected), the timing of it works out really well, missing the two guys," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We've talked about depth and the importance of depth and that's where it shows up. 

"Stech is highly competitive and he keeps it pretty simple. He gets pucks out and gets pucks in, and that alone is something we have to continue to improve as a hockey team. He knows what it takes to win and it would be good to get him back in."

In his second with the Wings, Stecher went through the difficult shortened last season, with the Wings far from the playoff picture. So to see how the Wings have improved thus far, and are on clinging to remain in the playoff chase, has been satisfying — but not completely.

"It's been fun but we're still not where we want to be, on the other side of the playoff picture, that's the ultimate goal, to get to the playoffs and anything can happen," Stecher said. "But watching the guys, especially to be part of it last year, you can just tell our structure and the way we're playing, the scores of the games, we're in every game and at the same time, to see the younger guys come in and have the effect, the dominance they have at the age they are."

Stecher was able to rehab with Jakub Vrana (shoulder surgery), who was essentially on the same timetable and schedule as Stecher was.

Stecher was able to rehab with Jakub Vrana (shoulder surgery), who was essentially on the same timetable and schedule as Stecher was. The two formed a healthy and needed bond while getting back into the lineup.

More: Red Wings' Jakub Vrana, Troy Stecher taking steps toward eventual return

"It's definitely nice, we could vent to each other," Stecher said. "(We'd) watch games together, if we had complaints we'd complain to each other, it was nice to have someone on your shoulder to learn on. It also helped with the whole rehab process on the ice. 

"If you're on the ice by yourself, if can get pretty lonely or tiring. So to have someone pushing you, and me pushing him, and make the progress we've made, we're real happy for each other."

Winning attitude

Being at .500 this late in the season would have seemed unlikely two years ago when the Wings wallowed deeply in last place in the NHL standings.

But the improvement has taken place, and with it, a positive and lighter atmosphere that comes with winning.

More: Detroit News 2021-22 Red Wings midseason grades

"We’ve done a decent job here over some really tough years of fighting through frustration and trying to keep our heads focused on moving towards a better tomorrow, when there’s not much light at the end of the tunnel, which two years ago there wasn’t,” Blashill said. “Last year there was a little bit more (light, or hope). It’s hard. This year, our guys are recognizing an avenue of us being a better team.

“Between an influx of talent and just kind of growing as a group in terms of what it takes to win, that’s part of the learning process and we’re learning it. We’ve taken very few steps backwards. We’ve just got to try to keep taking as many steps forward as we can.”

Seider watch

Detroit Red Wings' Moritz Seider in action during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Stecher competed against Moritz Seider at the world championships last spring and saw how impactful Seider could be a young defenseman in that tournament.

So seeing Seider's impact this season as a rookie, doesn't surprise Stecher.

"You could see at worlds how good he was," Stecher said. "It helps with his size and the way he can move and skate, for the most part bigger guys don't have his mobility. You see the potential he has, but to see him go through the course of this season and the confidence he's continued to build in his game, and some of the things he's doing on the ice, you know it's coming from confidence and I know everybody in the room is super happy for him but we all want to keep pushing him to get better. If he's better, our team will be better."

Flyers at Red Wings 

► Faceoff: Noon. Saturday, Little Caesars Arena.

► TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

► Outlook: The Flyers (15-23-8) visit Detroit to complete the back-to-back series...The Wings won 6-3 Wednesday in Philadelphia...The loss ended a brief, two-game Flyers win streak after they had lost 12 consecutive games...The injury-riddled Flyers lost C Sean Coutourier Friday to season-ending back surgery.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan