Friday’s notebook round-up: On Givani Smith’s promotion, Dylan Larkin’s recovery and the health of Joe Veleno, Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal

Of Red Wings-related note from Friday’s practice, per the Red Wings’ beat writers:

  1. The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted that Givani Smith has been moved up to the Robby Fabbri-Pius Suter line as the right winger, with coach Jeff Blashill suggesting that Smith’s size and strength may serve as an asset for the smaller Fabbri and Suter:

“We’re considering it,” coach Jeff Blashill said of the Smith switch. “I’m not sure if we stay with it in a game, but it’s something we want to look at. If we have Smitty up there, he’s a net presence, a big body, so you have (Smith) with a playmaking center (Suter) and a shooter in Fabs.”

Smith, after being a healthy scratch early last week, has strung together games where he’s been more of a physical presence, an area the Wings want to see him develop.

“He’s been solid the last three games,” Blashill said. “The Vegas game, he made a mistake or two defensively, but he was a presence in the offensive zone (scored a goal). He was better defensively in Arizona. The last game (Wednesday) he was a solid player. He can be a guy who if he can get consistent in his game, and brings what he brings to the table different than other people, he can be a guy who can help us.”

The Wings want Smith to be a physical presence, aggressive, but not take needless penalties after the whistle, or lazy penalties such as hooking and holding. It’s a fine line, a delicate balance, and Smith has had difficulty at times finding that fine line.

“Once the whistle blows, get back to our bench, and if he’s upsetting people, great, but don’t need to chat a lot,” Blashill said.

Kulfan continues;

2. MLive’s Ansar Khan filed an article discussing Dylan Larkin’s recovery from a difficult summer spent recovering from a neck injury, as well as his leave from the team due to a family emergency (and a false positive COVID test) this fall:

“The highs and lows, they’re pretty dramatic at times, especially if you let them be,” Larkin said. “I feel at times I’ve really let them get to me. This year, I really worked on not letting that happen, whether it’s going well or it’s not, whether things come into your life and take you out of the lineup for a week or you can’t play a third period, I’m really just trying not to let it get to me and be grateful that I’m here. We have a great group of guys that work really hard and we’re having a lot of fun. That’s what means the most to me this year.”

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said: “It’s not been easy, been a lot of stops and starts in terms of games he’s been in and not been able to play. I think he’s done a really good job of staying focused on what he can control and that’s his effort level and his output in games.”

The Red Wings (9-9-3) face the Buffalo Sabres (7-10-2) Saturday at Little Caesars Arena (7 p.m., Bally Sports Detroit).

Larkin has already surpassed last season’s goal total (nine) in 44 games.

Having a healthy Tyler Bertuzzi, limited to nine games last season due to a back injury, and adding rookie Lucas Raymond’s dynamic skills has helped boost Larkin.

“I’m looking to continue to be there for the guys and play really hard,” Larkin said. “I’m not worried about whether pucks are going in. I’m worried most about the team and playing a good game for the team.”

3. And Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff posted updates regarding the respective health situations of Joe Veleno (upper-body injury), Danny DeKeyser (COVID protocol) and Jordan Staal (non-COVID illness):

Forward Joe Veleno (upper-body) injury is questionable for Saturday’s game at Little Caesars Arena against the Buffalo Sabres. Defenseman Marc Staal (non-COVID illness) is doutbful for Saturday and defenseman Danny DeKeyser (COVID-19 protocols) is definitely out.

“He was unable to practice today,” Blashill said of Veleno. “I would call it day-to-day but not being able to practice yesterday and today puts him at very questionable for tomorrow.”

While declining to get into specifics as to what stage DeKeyser is at in the NHL’s COVID protocols, Blashill did outline that there is a possibility that he could be back earlier than the standard 10 days of quarantine.

“You can be in the protocol for a number of reasons,” Blashill explained. “Sometimes you’re in the protocol for a test and it can be a false positive like we had with Larks (captain Dylan Larkin). Sometimes you’re asymptomatic. If you’re asymptomatic, ultimately if you receive consecutive negative tests after that, then you can be out (of the protocol). Two days of consecutive tests and you can be out. If you’re symptomatic, then it’s probably a minimum of 10 days.”

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.