The Detroit Red Wings returned from a holiday break and learned they’ll be without one of their top players for an extended period.
Anthony Mantha will miss a minimum of four weeks with a rib injury, coach Jeff Blashill announced after Friday’s practice.
“He’s got what I’d call rib-type issues and things associated with that,” Blashill said. “It’s not the head or anything like that or anything that would preclude him from having a long and real good career. But he’s going to be out for a real good stretch.”
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Mantha was injured when he was pulled down by Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin late in the Wings’ 4-1 loss at Toronto on Dec. 21. He was playing just his fourth game since injuring his knee Nov. 23 against the Devils.
Mantha got off to a hot start and is still second on the team in goals (12) and points (24) despite missing time because of the knee. He scored a career-high 25 goals last season even though he was out for a month because of a broken hand.
“It’s definitely a key piece to the puzzle that we’re missing there,” forward Robby Fabbri said. “You hear with every team, next man up mentality. That’s kind of what we’re going to go with this year. We can’t rely solely on Moe to score the goals when he’s in. Guys are ready to step up, guys are ready to do their part to help turn this around.”
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It has been a rough year all around for the Wings, and injuries have played a major role. They’ve already lost top defenseman Danny DeKeyser for the season and top goaltender Jimmy Howard just returned to action before the Christmas break.
“Collectively, we’ve got to try to be better,” Valtteri Filppula said. “When you play better defensively, you don’t have to score as many goals. We’ll try to win games that way.”
During Friday’s practice, Andreas Athanasiou took Mantha’s place on the first line alongside Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.
“Athanasiou certainly has the ability to play at a high, high level,” Blashill said. “I’m hoping he can step in there and play at a high level there, so we’ll see.”
Zadina relaxes, back from Grand Rapids
After sending them down on Monday, the Wings recalled rookie right wing Filip Zadina, defenseman Brian Lashoff and goaltender Calvin Pickard from the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday.
Zadina has eight points in 13 games since his initial recall on Nov. 24. He scored one of the goals in the Wings’ most recent outing, a 5-2 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
The decision to send him down was related to roster management. He didn’t play or practice during the week, but spent the break at his Grand Rapids apartment with close friends and his girlfriend.
“It was nice. It was a holiday, it was Christmas,” he said. “I didn’t care I was sent down.”
Zadina would still prefer to have his latest call-up become permanent.
“Most important is that I’m back here, so I’m glad for that,” he said.
Filppula doesn’t regret re-signing
Filppula knew he wasn’t rejoining a championship contender when he signed up for a second stint with the Wings. He never anticipated they would be the league’s doormat.
Filppula began his career in Detroit in 2006 and stayed through the 2012-13 season. General manager Steve Yzerman brought Filppula back this season on a two-year, $6 million contract.
“It’s always tough when you lose a lot,” Filppula said. “It’s not fun. At the same time, you want to learn from that and get better. Hopefully, we can slowly start turning the wheels the right way and getting some wins.”
His knowledge of the game is valued by the coaching staff. Blashill had a session with him at the end of practice, mulling strategy.
“I was just asking him some questions about systematic stuff and different teams he’s played on,” Blashill said. “Fil’s really smart. Fil’s played pretty good for us. None of us have scored enough, so everybody’s totals are down, but I’ve been happy with Fil’s play.”
Filppula, who has three goals and 14 points, received other offers but jumped at the chance to return to Detroit.
“When I first left, I didn’t think it would necessarily happen again,” he said. “When the opportunity came, I was real excited about that. It was good to come back home.”
Bernier close to returning
Pickard will back up Howard in Florida on Saturday but may not be on the Wings’ active roster for long.
Jonathan Bernier is close to returning after suffering a groin injury in the same game in which Mantha was injured.
“I think Bernie will be available but probably not until Sunday (against Tampa Bay),” Blashill said.
Published at Fri, 27 Dec 2019 18:40:17 +0000