DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill had quite a bit to say Tuesday morning after the team's practice.
The Red Wings will host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. The game will feature another visit from former Red Wings scorer Tomas Tatar, who was traded to Vegas at the deadline last winter before being signed by Montreal in the offseason.
- Game time: 7:30 p.m.
- TV: FSDT
Blashill spoke about his affection for Tatar. The coach also went through a "status" list of many of his current players, including some injury updates.
Here's what he had to say (watch video above):
On Filip Hronek's return from Grand Rapids
Hronek, 21, started the season with the Red Wings before being sent down to the team's AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. The rookie defenseman scored 18 points in 20 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins and was recalled in December when the Red Wings lost both Mike Green and Dan DeKeyser to injury.
Blashill said Hronek's time spent back in the AHL, where he has played for the past two seasons, helped him gain confidence. The coach is happier with what he sees in his second stint this season in the NHL.
"He got to get some PK reps (in the AHL) ... he got confidence from going down (to the AHL) ... early when he was with us he made some big mistakes ... he's done a good job in the second stint back," said Blashill.
On Tomas Tatar
Tatar, who spent parts of the past seven seasons with the Red Wings, has 14 goals and 17 assists with the Canadiens this season. This will be his first visit to Detroit as a Canadien.
Blashill praised Tatar for his character and his time with both the Red Wings and the Griffins.
"I'm real happy that Tats has had a real good year. It didn't go his way in Vegas ... but he's a real good player. He's been a real good NHL player for a number of years. He's a great person, great competitor, wants the moment," said Blashill. "I'm happy he's having a good year. I hope he doesn't do much against us tonight, but he's a great person. One of the people that was instrumental in me having success in the (AHL) that allowed me to be here."
On Anthony Mantha getting injured fighting
Anthony Mantha returned to Blashill's lineup on Friday after missing a month due to a hand injury. The forward injured his hand while fighting in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 2. The coach said he doesn't necessarily like losing one of his top goal scorers like that, but he still likes to see his team stick up for each other.
"Do I mind it? I wouldn't have told him not to. He was sticking up for his teammate, one of his linemates at the time, one of our better players. I think if you have a team that doesn't look after each other, you don't have a team. Was it unfortunate that the injury resulted? Yes, 100 percent. There is inherent risk in fighting, in blocking shots, we've seen injuries from both," said Blashill. "But I am not going to ask our guys not to block shots and I'm not going to ask our guys not to stick up for each other. He's gotta measure whether he thinks it's right or not right. Do I want Anthony fighting every night? No. He's a very talented player who I think is a real good player for us. What I certainly want is us to have the mentality in this locker room that we're going to look after each other."
As for Mantha's play overall:
"I think from about the Dallas game (Oct. 28) on here from home ... the improvement is the continued improvement in skating. And when he skates to create forecheck pressure, when he skates with the puck, he's an absolute force. He's 6-5, he's got good hands, he's a big body, he can make a play, he can shoot the puck. I think his shot mentality through that stretch was way better. He was playing excellent hockey before he got hurt and I think he was excellent against Nashville and was pretty good against Washington ... it's just a matter of continuing to push himself to skate on a regular basis," said the coach.
Mantha has 10 goals and 5 assists in 29 games played this season.
On Mike Green's injury
Green has been out of the lineup since early December. He is on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury and was expected be out until the middle of January. Blashill said the veteran defenseman could be back by this weekend when the Red Wings play Winnipeg and Minnesota.
"We're hoping on the weekend. I don't think Friday would be a real possibility because of the fact it would be back-to-back, but we'd love to have him for Saturday," said Blashill.
On Danny DeKeyser's injury
DeKeyser has been out of the lineup for weeks. He is on the injured reserve list with a hand injury and was expected to miss four-to-six weeks, which would have him returning sometime in January. And that sounds like a possibility still, judging by what his coach said Tuesday.
"He's been skating so it won't be a whole bunch of time ... I think I'd say the Anaheim game potentially is in play," said Blashill.
On Michael Rasmussen's injury
Rasmussen missed the last game with a lower-body injury. He could be back for the weekend, too.
"Rasmussen, he still has some pain. I don't think this is going to be a long thing, but we're using this time to get him reset and get him pain free .. whether or not he'll be ready for the weekend, I don't know yet," said Blashill.
On Dylan Larkin as an All-Star
Larkin has 18 goals and 23 assists in 44 games played. He's getting a lot of support for an All-Star Game nod, and his coach can't imagine picking anyone else for a 3-on-3 scenario.
"He's been our best player on a nightly basis. He's done an outstanding job of taking a very hard next step, which is continuing to be a really good two-way center, but adding more offense. I think the world of him, and I think he deserves to go (to the All-Star Game)," said Blashill.
Here's the January game schedule:
|Jan. 8, 2019||vs. Montreal (7:30 p.m.)|
|Jan. 11, 2019||@ Winnipeg (8 p.m.)|
|Jan. 12, 2019||@ Minnesota (8 p.m.)|
|Jan. 15, 2019||vs. Anaheim (7:30 p.m.)|
|Jan. 18, 2019||@ Calgary (9 p.m.)|
|Jan. 20, 2019||@ Vancouver (4 p.m.)|
|Jan. 22, 2019||@ Edmonton (9 p.m.)|
The Red Wings will get a 10-day break for the NHL All-Star Game festivities between Jan. 22 and Feb. 1 when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs.