Filip Zadina and Jeff Blashill spoke with the media this afternoon, and then the pair spoke about the realities of playing hockey in a COVID world. MLive’s Ansar Khan took note of Blashill’s belief that the coronavirus is being spread through play…
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said he is certain his players who contracted COVID got it in games against Carolina on Jan. 14 and 16. The Hurricanes had four games postponed shortly after due to a rash of positive tests.
“That’s just the reality of testing being delayed. … It’s really hard to avoid (contracting it),” Blashill said. “It didn’t spread with our team any more than that. We’ve enforced protocols that have been in place to make sure we mitigate any further spreading. I think out staff and players did a real good job of that.
“The problem with hockey is we played in a rink where the humidity is dry and the air is cool, and my understanding, with the research I’ve done, that potentially lets that virus sit right there in the air and it doesn’t dissipate, so one team has it and you play a game, it’s hard. You don’t get an instant (test) result that is reliable. The fact that games are getting postponed is unfortunate, but from our perspective we just got to keep trying do the best we can with the protocols.”
Zadina’s return gives the Wings more options up front, especially with Tyler Bertuzzi sidelined at least through Feb. 9 because of an upper body injury.
“It’s a cautious boost,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think the boost will come in time, for sure, but as you saw, your first game back is not easy. It’s hard enough when you’re coming out of training camp and you’ve been going, and then to take a pause, it will take Filip some time to get going at full speed. But it’s just the situation we’re in, where guys have to get back to full speed as fast as they can.
“The one thing I’d say with Filip is, he appears to be feeling good, so hopefully he can hit the ground running.”
Goalie Jonathan Bernier, out with an upper body injury since Jan. 28, also practiced, but Blashill wasn’t sure Bernier would be available by Friday. The Lightning chased Thomas Greiss after scoring three goals in five minutes Wednesday, but the Wings’ offense offered Greiss little support before that — and that is a major focus headed into the rematch.
“We have to do a better job slowing them down, so we have to check better than we did, for sure,” Blashill said. “And then we have to have the puck more. It’s a combination of the two — you have to check to win. You have no chance in this league if you don’t check. But the best way to check is to have the puck a lot. When you have the puck a lot, you’re not tired trying to change and then they’re jamming it back down your throat, like what happened on the first goal. So let’s have the puck more and then let’s do a better job checking.”