MLive’s Ansar Khan engages in a wide-ranging Question and Answer session with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill this morning, and the subscriber-only article on MLive affords Blashill the opportunity to address several important topics, including the future of the Bertuzzi-Larkin-Mantha line:
Q: Does more forward depth enable you to keep the top line (Dylan Larkin with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi) together for longer stretches?
A: “We have to get more from more lines and part of that is those lines earning more ice time and not having to play the Larkin line as much as I did a year ago. That’s not to say their ice time won’t be significant, it will be, but to a level that makes sense for our team. To do that, other lines have to find ways to be successful, whether that’s through points or through momentum, through creating more opportunities than you give up. I’m hoping our depth gives us that ability. We can’t be a one-line team and have success. We have to be a team that has success throughout each line. All this is prediction at this point. Once the season gets going, guys will have an opportunity to prove it.”
Q: How important will it be for the seven non-playoff teams to get an extra week of training camp?
A: “I’m not sure what is going to happen. I have not received any word that we will for certain. I think it depends on the timing of when the season starts. We’re getting closer and closer. If it is a Jan. 1 start, it could be difficult for us to get that extra week. Whatever we’re given, it’s always important to have a great training camp, but it’s going to be that much more important this year. We will not have time to absorb the type of injuries sometimes you absorb at training camp, so we’re going to have to be smart about how we train our players. But they’re going to have to be really smart about coming into camp being extremely hockey-ready. That’s not anything different, but it’s probably magnified this year by how long we’ve been off and the fact we’ll probably play fewer games.”