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Red Wings-Bruins game-day articles: B’s eye puck possession; on Athanasiou, Mrazek & 2 point-games

The Red Wings host the Boston Bruins this evening (8 PM EST on NBCSN/97.1 FM), and the morning skates revealed very little other than the Bruins' staggering 10-1-and-1 record against the Wings over the past 12 games.

There was also a birth announcement from the Bruins...

So the Bruins will ice the following lineup:

If you're interested...

The Boston Herald's Stephen Harris also filed a game-day notebook:

Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Bruins tonight face a Red Wings club that has played better than its recent record (1-5-4) suggests. The B's will try to push their record on the road (now5-5-2) above. 500.

"There's a lot of hockey left so I don't want to speculate on where (the Wings) are going to go -- all I know is that they're a good team," said B's coach Bruce Cassidy after the morning skate. "They've played better than their record indicates lately. We've got to focus on ourselves. We'll talk about their strengths and tendencies. They've got a good group of forwards who play fast. If you're not controlling your gaps and you're letting them behind you, it's going to be a tough night for us. So we have to make sure we counter that with good checking position and puck possession. Force them to defend us, so they're not always on the attack. That's going to be our game plan tonight. Let's hope we can execute it."

On the Red Wings' side of the ice, the Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Andreas Athanasiou, who's been struggling to score goals:

Athanasiou is one of the most dynamic players on the Detroit Red Wings, capable of sudden bursts of speed that lead to scoring opportunities. He delivered five goals in his first 11 games this season, but since has had a dry spell, as have the Wings as a whole. That’s why he’s looking to pass less, depending on the situation.

“I think I pass up a lot of shots,” Athanasiou said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “It’s something I’m thinking about, not passing up some opportunities — in games, if I see a pass, I always want to try to make it. Sometimes you have to shoot the puck, especially when they aren’t going in. You want to overshoot it.

“I just have to keep bringing that speed element and skill set. I know that I can produce opportunities for the team when I am out there.”

Athanasiou had 10 points entering Wednesday’s game between the Wings and Boston Bruins at Little Caesars Arena. He has logged 20 games since a contract stalemate ended in late October. Missing training camp and exhibition season can set a player back, but Athanasiou is only 23, and has a fast set of legs.

Athanasiou hasn’t scored in nine games before Boston, but has generated opportunities.

“He’s certainly had some chances on the power play,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s had some chances 5-on-5. I thought the St. Louis game, honestly, was a real good game for him. The things we’ve talked about is making sure that he’s got give-and-go in his game, that it’s not just based on his speed and that he is skating without the puck. When he does those things, when he skates without the puck and demands the puck in areas and where he has that give-and-go and changes speed, it makes him multidimensional. He’s a guy that can supply some big plays for us and we certainly need it from him.”

St. James continues, and she posted a video of Blashill's comments:

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan also filed a game-day notebook. Among his notes:

Goaltender Petr Mrazek has only appeared in 10 games this season, which has spurred rumors of Mrazek being traded, with the Red Wings seemingly committed to veteran Jimmy Howard.

Mrazek has a 2-4-1 record, with a sky-high 3.73 goals-against average and .888 save percentage.

“I have confidence in both guys,” Blashill said. “But right now, Jimmy is the guy we’ve gone with, and at some point when Petr gets an opportunity, he has to make sure he’s great. We need great team defense and great goaltending to win.

“I’ve said this from the start of the year. We’re in a playoff game every night, and so my job is to put the linup in that I think gives us the best chance to win the hockey game.”

...

Blashill wouldn’t reveal his lineup, but indications were Luke Witkowski would remain in the lineup, capable of being used at either forward or defense.

So, we should assume that yesterday's practice lineup will hold true, with Howard starting:

Nyquist-Zetterberg-Abdelkader

Helm-Nielsen-Glendening

Mantha-Larkin-Tatar

Athanasiou-Frk

Ericsson-Daley

DeKeyser-Green

Kronwall-Jensen

Witkowski

Howard

NHL.com's Dave Hogg also posted a game preview:

The Game: The Boston Bruins look for their third consecutive victory and ninth win in 11 games when they visit the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask will attempt to win his fifth straight start for the Bruins, 8-2-0 in their past 10 games. Rask has allowed five goals in his past five games (four starts), with one shutout.

The Red Wings will try to avoid their third straight loss and 10th defeat in 11 games; they are 1-5-4 in their past 10 games.

Players to watch: Bruins forward Brad Marchand has eight points (five goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak since returning from an undisclosed injury. Marchand has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 19 games this season.

Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg ended a career-worst 22-game streak without a goal when he scored in the first period of a 2-1 overtime loss against the Florida Panthers on Monday.

They said it: "Detroit's been better lately than their record would indicate, and they have a lot of speed. We have got to stay focused and keep the puck so that we are attacking them instead of letting them attack us." -- Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy

"We've done some good things in our last couple games, and we know we have to keep playing our style of hockey, but we can't make the [Stanley Cup] playoffs if we don't start getting two points in a lot more games." -- Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha

In the prospect department, the Hamilton News's Mike Pearson penned a profile of Hamilton Bulldogs defenseman Reilly Webb...

Webb has professional aspirations to consider in the near-future. The six-foot-three, 201-pound defender was chosen in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, 164th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings.

Last summer, Webb attended a six-day Red Wings development camp, where he learned a few things about what it takes to be a pro. He gained insight into everything from eating and sleeping right to skill development and conditioning.

Today Webb keeps the Red Wings organization up-to-date on his progress. But his main focus remains on his current team.

“Every week I text (Detroit) and I let them know what’s up and how I’m doing,” said Webb. “So I keep in touch with them, but my main focus is here with Hamilton.”

Webb isn’t letting his future career goals become a distraction.

“You just want to come in to work every day and keep at it and listen to what the coaches are saying,” he said. “You take care of what you can control and that’s my goal so far.”

Pearson continues...

 

Update: Here's BostonBruins.com's Eric Russo's game-day update:

Counter Punch: Detroit has lost nine of its last 10 (1-5-4), but Cassidy is not overlooking the skill and speed the Red Wings present up front. Twenty-one-year-old Dylan Larkin paces the Wings with 23 points (4 goals, 19 assists) in 30 games this season.

"They're a good team, they've played better than their record indicates lately," said Cassidy. "They've got a good group of forwards that play fast. If you're not controlling your gaps and letting them behind you it's going to be a tough night for us. We've got to make sure that we counter that with good checking position and puck possession, force them to defend us so that they're not always on the attack. That's going to be our game plan tonight and let's hope we can execute it."

Where the Pizza At? The Bruins are making their inaugural regular-season visit to Little Caesar's Arena, which replaced the famed Joe Louis Arena at the start of this year. The new digs are quite impressive, but there won't be any real adjustments to be made on the Bruins' end.

"It's a nice building, very nicely done and beautiful place," said Zdeno Chara. "The plan is the same, we've got to come out and focus on yourself and play your game."
...

Here is the B's projected lineup for tonight based on pregame skate:

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen - Riley Nash - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Paul Postma

Tuukka Rask

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Comments

WingedRider's avatar

I was enjoying my Game Day morning and sure enough more rehashed Mrazek and AA, WHY WHY??

BS baffles brains, it seems,  in the Detroit media.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 12/13/17 at 02:57 PM ET

Avatar

He’s certainly had some chances on the power play,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s had some chances 5-on-5. I thought the St. Louis game, honestly, was a real good game for him. The things we’ve talked about is making sure that he’s got give-and-go in his game, that it’s not just based on his speed and that he is skating without the puck. When he does those things, when he skates without the puck and demands the puck in areas and where he has that give-and-go and changes speed, it makes him multidimensional. He’s a guy that can supply some big plays for us and we certainly need it from him.

why can’t Blashill keep his praise for a young player out of the press. This is getting ridiculous. He should talk with them first about what a good job they did rather then sending a message through the media.

Wow. What the heck is Blashill saying in the rest of the interview. Defense leads to offense? huh? nuht ah Jeffy. Cherry picking leads to more goals.

I just can’t stand how much Blashill hates AA. This interview it was very clear. His worry lines between his eyes are so noticeable.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 12/13/17 at 03:25 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Pretty pathetic that we’ve got other teams making excuses for us.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 12/13/17 at 03:30 PM ET

Avatar

Yeah, Blashill keeps messing with fourth line, between Wilson (traded),  Booth, now Bertuzzi. Seems like as soon as fourth line seems to have a little chemistry Blashill starts 11 forwards. What do I know, still trying to understand the process.

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 04:22 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 03:22 PM ET

So we’re now criticizing the makeup of the 4th line now eh… ok.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 12/13/17 at 04:52 PM ET

Avatar

Yeah, Blashill keeps messing with fourth line, between Wilson (traded),  Booth, now Bertuzzi. Seems like as soon as fourth line seems to have a little chemistry Blashill starts 11 forwards. What do I know, still trying to understand the process.

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 03:22 PM ET

Who is the 7th d-man that is so vital to winning…that it’s worth mucking around with our ability to roll 4 lines? Hilarious. Blash has no clue what he’s doing.

Posted by fatsavage on 12/13/17 at 04:54 PM ET

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How do you trade a 4M/year goalie who never gets to play
and doesn’t get a chance even when he isn’t any worse than the starter?

Maybe they will just let him go for nothing - or at best trade him
at the last moment to a contender who still likes his ability to
steal a big game and is open to him at least platooning next season.

They’ve made it clear they have little faith in Mrazek at this point
and don’t even seem to put in the odd positive word to the press.

I’m not sure how that helps the team or the player.

Posted by Lefty30 on 12/13/17 at 05:10 PM ET

Avatar

They’ve made it clear they have little faith in Mrazek at this point
and don’t even seem to put in the odd positive word to the press.

Oh come on now Lefty, Blashill said he has confidence in both guys. Lol. I guess we can take comfort in the fact that there is a back to back next week, so Petr will probably get the opportunity Blashill speaks of then. What is really ridiculous is that Howard could let in 6 goals tonight, and would still get the start Friday against Toronto.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 12/13/17 at 05:51 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 03:22 PM ET
So we’re now criticizing the makeup of the 4th line now eh… ok.
Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 12/13/17 at 03:52 PM ET
My point was this team has problems with consistent goal scoring and plenty of times can’t score more than one goal. Don’t understand the constant line changes, players seem lost. As long as he’s doing this try a Larkin-AA-Mantha line with AA playing center. process has been in effect for 2 seasons and 30 games, got 52 left show we’re a playoff team.

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 05:52 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

The criticisms of this team are becoming petty at this point.

First, booth and Wilson are wastes of players not deserving to be on this roster. Ditto Witkowski. Is Bertuzzi even any good or just another bottom 6 player that we could easily do without?

Now, we are begging for them to play because…???

At least lets be consistent. Lol

Posted by ilovehomers on 12/13/17 at 05:54 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Guys…just let it go.  This ship is sinking.  The season is over.  They aren’t really trying to win.

Posted by TreKronor on 12/13/17 at 06:00 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

The lines have pretty well remained in tact for the past couple games. As shown above. Save for the 12th forward.

Posted by ilovehomers on 12/13/17 at 06:00 PM ET

Avatar

That’s true.

And I glossed right over it!

I guess to me the whole statement just seemed like boilerplate.

Maybe that means I would just take a different approach
- go out of my way to say something more positive,
instead of sort of saying the bare minimum, when player usage
seems to belie even that level of confidence.

But words and fact matter - or I hope they still do,
so I don’t mind you catching that.

 

Posted by Lefty30 on 12/13/17 at 06:04 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 04:52 PM ET

Hmm… that was a different than the post I read bagging on a 4th line, thanks for the decoding that one for me.

On the topic of consistent goal scoring. There are two players on this roster, that are in the prime of their career and are paid to do nothing but score, or at least put up points, Nyquist and Tatar. Both have been tried on different lines, different combos, been given ample ice time and been given first opportunities at PP time, yet both do not produce on a consistent basis.

Why does everyone blame that on Blashill? There’s stuff to blame him for but why am I the only one that calls these two out, why do they get a pass?  Who else are we counting on to consistent offensively?

Abby, Helm, Glenny, Nielsen are defensive minded, pk guys that aren’t paid to produce alone, though you’d like to see something more out of Neilson considering contract and history, but he’s also with Luke and Helm so.

Young guys like Larkin, Mantha, AA, Frk, you expect them to be inconsistent that’s what young guys are. Hank is gonna be productive at times, but his career is winding down and he’s dishing to guess who 14 and 21.

These two are turning out to be frauds, and I remember a lot of tears about Nyquist being held back a month in GR, and how Holland was the worst GM in the league for even letting Tatar be unsigned for a day this summer. Its time for them to put up on teh scoreboard.

 

 

 

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 12/13/17 at 06:09 PM ET

Avatar

That’s true.

And I glossed right over it!

I guess to me the whole statement just seemed like boilerplate.

quote

I was being sarcastic Lefty, b/c I read it the exact same way that you did. Boilerplate. The way the have dealt with Mrazek has been disappointing and frustrating. I can’t help but feel bad for the kid.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 12/13/17 at 06:21 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

When does the line Blender start tonite? Started a bit past the 11 min mark of the 1st period vs Panthers. Please do not ask why

Winner gets a free ticket to a Stanley Cup anytime in the next Decade if Wings are one of 2 teams left, still playing, even as passengers..

KH will protect Petr by not playing him. Scare teams away?  He forgot the Arbitrator will kick him in the genitals and give him $4m, KH wheels his Wheel Chair away, giggling that he saved $4M Cap. KH and Jimmy D celebrate with Mickey’s sacred Ginger Ale

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 12/13/17 at 06:25 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

“I think I pass up a lot of shots,” Athanasiou said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “It’s something I’m thinking about, not passing up some opportunities — in games, if I see a pass, I always want to try to make it. Sometimes you have to shoot the puck, especially when they aren’t going in. You want to overshoot it.

I could have sworn that over-passing was part of the “Process”.  Sort of the Norman Dale School of Coaching “All 5 guys have to touch the puck before anyone shoots!”.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 12/13/17 at 06:28 PM ET

Avatar

These two are turning out to be frauds, and I remember a lot of tears about Nyquist being held back a month in GR, and how Holland was the worst GM in the league for even letting Tatar be unsigned for a day this summer. Its time for them to put up on [the] scoreboard.

As I recall, HinHD was someone who doubted Nyquist when we all were giving all future goals to him and his astronomical shooting percentage. (Oh no, VP is going to claim I am HinHD again.)

While I agree there is a lot of passing on holding Gus and Tats accountable I do feel the overall “culture” of this team is trending toward losing. Losing behavior is hard to shake….ask the Oilers about it…..Sorry Hank, you get to go out on a flat note.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 12/13/17 at 06:38 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 12/13/17 at 05:09 PM ET
Definitely agree, these two aren’t scoring.

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/13/17 at 07:12 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

While I agree there is a lot of passing on holding Gus and Tats accountable I do feel the overall “culture” of this team is trending toward losing.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 12/13/17 at 05:38 PM ET

I’ve said many times, teams don’t run on rookies, or old men, they run on guys in their prime. Those two in that regard are a significant part of the eroding “culture” problem IMO.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 12/13/17 at 07:38 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.