Athanasiou suggests that William Nylander won’t be affected by contract holdout

The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan headed to Detroit ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, with the Leafs practicing in Dallas while Koshan attended Detroit’s practice at LCA.

Koshan did so to ask Andreas Athanasiou about parallels between his contract holdout last season and the current situation of one William Nylander, who remains unsigned by Toronto:

“Everyone trains so well these days,” Athanasiou said on Wednesday. “It’s not easy coming into the season when haven’t had camp or game action, but you step into it right away. He will be back in a rhythm, I’m sure, after a couple of shifts.”

Of course, there must be the consideration that Nylander, perhaps, takes those couple of shifts with another team. The longer the impasse goes between the Leafs and agent Lewis Gross, it’s possible general manager Kyle Dubas looks more intently at a trade option, likely for a defenceman. Time remains on the side of the Leafs and Nylander, for now, as the deadline for the winger to be signed isn’t until Dec. 1.

Athanasiou said he never took the contract negotiations between his agent, Darren Ferris (who counts Mitch Marner among his clients) and Wings general manager Ken Holland personally, understanding that the at-times slow pace of talks were, as Athanasiou said, “part of the business.”

Athanasiou scored in his second game after signing and finished the 2017-18 season with 33 points (16 goals and 17 assists) in 71 games. This past July, the 24-year-old signed a two-year, $6-million contract.

While Athanasiou’s situation came to a conclusion that satisfied both sides, he can imagine what Nylander is experiencing.

“You always want to know what’s going on, and you’re just sitting there  waiting,” Athanasiou said. “I was watching our games when I was over in Switzerland, and you’re trying to keep track of everything. Whenever a deal got done and I stepped on the ice, I was going to be ready. He has been playing hockey his whole life. He will be fine.”

Libor Sulak among rookies earning praise from THN’s Campbell

The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell gives six lesser-known rookies a “shout out,” and Libor Sulak made Campbell’s list:

Libor Sulak, Detroit: The Red Wings made it abundantly clear that there were jobs to be taken on their roster and one of them went to the 24-year-old Sulak, who took advantage of a blueline that has been besieged by injuries to regulars Mike Green, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley. Sulak played two games with the Grand Rapids Griffins late last season and impressed with his shot and puck-moving ability. He also had an impressive World Championship for the Czech Republic. He might not be around when the Red Wings get all their regular defensemen back, but one of the pleasant surprises for the Red Wings early is that a good number of their young kids, including Sulak, can play at the NHL level.

Little known fact: Sulak was on loan to the Pelicans of the Finnish League last season and finished second among defensemen in goals with nine.

Continued

Kulfan, Wings discuss match-up with Toronto

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan posted a post-practice news cycle article discussing tomorrow’s match-up between the Red Wings and the 3-and-1 Toronto Maple Leafs:

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.”

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Griffins post weekly press release ahead of home opener vs. Hershey, road tilt vs. Chicago

Here’s the Grand Rapids Griffins’ weekly press release ahead of the team’s home opener vs. the Hershey Bears on Friday, October 12th. MLive’s Peter J. Wallner has also posted a “Meet the 2018-19 Grand Rapids Griffins” set of head shots and biographies:

GRIFFINS HOST HERSHEY IN HOME OPENER, TRAVEL TO CHICAGO

GRIFFINS vs. Hershey Bears // Fri., Oct. 12 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:05 p.m.
Watch: AHLTV
Season Series: First of two meetings overall, first and last at Van Andel Arena
All-Time Series: 3-1-0-0 Home, 7-1-0-0 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Washington Capitals
Noteworthy: In its 81st AHL season, Hershey is the oldest franchise on the circuit.

GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Sat., Oct. 13 // 8 p.m. EDT // Allstate Arena
Listen: WBFX 101.3 FM at 7:35 p.m.
Watch: AHLTV, CW50 (Chicago)
Season Series: First of eight meetings overall, first of four at Allstate Arena
All-Time Series: 41-31-0-2-1 Road, 81-56-2-6-3 Overall
NHL Affiliation: Vegas Golden Knights
Noteworthy: Chicago has won back-to-back Central Division titles.

Continue reading Griffins post weekly press release ahead of home opener vs. Hershey, road tilt vs. Chicago

Articles from Wings practice: Wings looking to shoot as depleted defense bears down for prolific Leafs; on Mantha’s confidence

The Red Wings practiced this morning at Little Caesars Arena minus Dennis Cholowski, who’s out with an upper-body injury, and with Niklas Kronwall, who hopes to make his return to the lineup when the Wings host Toronto on Thursday night.

After practice, the Red Wings talked about their emphasis on shooting the puck more regularly, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James in video and then text form:

“We have been passing up too many shots in the slot where there is a grade-a scoring chance and we’re trying to look for somebody back door for a tap-in,” Gustav Nyquist said Wednesday. “It usually hits someone’s skate or someone’s stick and then it deflects in the corner and then it’s not a scoring chance any more. I think it’s a matter of when you have a good scoring chance, take it and shoot yourself. The guy who is waiting for a back door tap-in can get to the rebound.”

The Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) at Little Caesars before heading back on the road for four games. The Leafs are one of the most talented teams in the NHL, as borne out by a five-goals per game average.

The Wings have been beset by injuries on defense to start the season, and that trend continues as rookie Dennis Cholowski is sidelined by an upper-body injury, joining veterans Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green. Niklas Kronwall, who missed the first three games because of injury, is ready to play; he can’t skate like he used to, but he’s still a smart player.

On the front end, the only pending change appears to be Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader swapping spots, with Nyquist joining Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek, and Abdelkader playing with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

Nyquist is second on the Wings with nine shots, behind Larkin’s 11. While players are shown video clips of where they could have shot instead of passed, it can be hard to implement in a game.

St. James continues, and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan discussed the Wings’ banged-up blueline

Continue reading Articles from Wings practice: Wings looking to shoot as depleted defense bears down for prolific Leafs; on Mantha’s confidence

Videos from practice: Wings talk about shooting the puck

The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a 5:22 video in which she spoke with both Red Wings’ players (Gustav Nyquist and Andreas Athanasiou) and their coach regarding their need to shoot pucks more regularly…

And MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a clip of Blashill discussing the team’s attempt to instill a “shooting mentality” in their shooters:

 

Saturday’s Red Wings-Bruins game will start at 3 PM EDT to accommodate MLB playoffs

FYI:

Blashill scouts the Leafs

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill spoke with the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan regarding Thursday’s opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Update: MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a pair of videos from Blashill and Niklas Kronwall post-practice: