Thursday’s game will be the first between the teams this season, and with the Wings searching for their first victory, this might not be the best time for Detroit.
The young defense the Wings are playing with now will be severely tested. In the next-to-last preseason game, against a nearly-full Toronto lineup, the Leafs defeated the Wings 6-2.
“The good thing for us is, at least we saw them in the exhibition and all the young D (defensemen) played in that exhibition game,” Blashill said. “We know how fast they can come at you and we’re better prepared having done that. It doesn’t mean we’ll meet that challenge. It’s up to us to show that. If they’re coming at us flying 100 miles per hour the whole night, it’ll be a long night. We better put the puck behind them, grind them in their zone and make them defend as much as possible. If we do that we’ll be in a good spot. If we don’t, it’ll be a hard night.”
In an effort to generate more offense, Blashill switched two lines during Wednesday’s practice, moving Justin Abdelkader with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, while Gustav Nyquist skated with Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek.
Blashill didn’t commit to the changes for the game but needs to see more offense, especially with Toronto coming to Little Caesars Arena.
“Just a look to see if we can’t make one little adjustment to score a bit more. We’re close to scoring,” Blashill said. “Nyquist has a real high hockey IQ, too, and had good success with Vanek (two seasons ago). We’ll see if maybe we can replicate some of that.”