Both the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James filed notebook articles before departing Traverse City.
With Thomas Vanek and Filip Zadina both nursing “tweaks”, Blashill said he’ll hold out the Vanek, Andreas Athanasiou, Zadina line until Thursday’s exhibition game — if they’re healthy.
Blashill said the lineup continues to be mildly changed but the Larkin line will play Wednesday against Pittsburgh, and Michael Rasmussen will play with Joe Veleno and Justin Abdelkader against the Penguins.
Among the defensemen battling for jobs, Blashill said Dennis Cholowski will be in the lineup against Pittsburgh, while Filip Hronek will play Thursday against Chicago.
Henrik Zetterberg’s decision to stop playing because of a back injury leaves the Wings with 10 NHL regulars on the forward roster: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek. There’s also Martin Frk, whose battle for a spot has been hampered by a sore back. Veteran Jussi Jokinen is at camp on a tryout.
The spotlight is on recent first-round picks Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina and Evgeny Svechnikov to push for a job among the forward group. Rasmussen had such a good playoffs in the Western Hockey League (14 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 14 games) that he’s all but penned onto the team. He and Zadina both have the skill set to provide an offensive boost, something the Wings badly need.
It’s a good sign for Zadina that it appears he’ll get some looks on a line with Athanasiou and Vanek — Vanek is certain to get Zadina the puck, giving Zadina a chance to show he can finish at the NHL level already.
Rasmussen is pencilled in to play Wednesday with Joe Veleno and Justin Abdelkader, while Zadina is tentatively on deck for Thursday’s game.
Blashill said the emphasis will be on lines to “compete with each other for ice time.”