from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
It’s up to Andreas Athanasiou’s line to provide secondary scoring.
“You can’t live on one line scoring,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “The thing that helps with Doubles in the lineup is it makes Taro (Hirose) more dangerous. Taro is not a self-creator, he’s a guy that plays off really good offensive players. Outside of Larkin, Mantha and Bertuzzi, the next most-talented player is AA without a doubt. I think if we can get them playing together, it helps create more synergy in that group in offense.”
Athanasiou returned to practice Friday after missing the previous two practices and much of the preseason with an injury. Blashill said his status for the season opener Saturday in Nashville (8 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) will be determined at game time.
If Athanasiou plays, he likely will be back at center, where he finished 2018-19, on a line with Hirose and Luke Glendening.
Blashill originally planned on having Valtteri Filppula or Frans Nielsen center the second line with Athanasiou and Hirose. But he wants an element of grit there, someone who can retrieve pucks and win battles in the corners and at the net front. He believes Glendening can provide that.
“If you go back to the end of last year, Hirose, AA and Glendening were a good line,” Blashill said. “I don’t know if I’d call one a center over the other. We made a big deal of AA playing center, but the reality is sometimes Glenny is the center and sometimes Doubles is the center. It was a good line and I want to see that line again, so it’s definitely something I’ll consider, and we’ll see who’s healthy.”
Below, watch Nielsen and Blashill after today's practice.
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