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Larkin expects to play in Red Wings opener against Predators

Center 'absolutely ready' for Detroit despite upper-body injury; Athanasiou questionable

by Dave Hogg / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

DETROIT -- Dylan Larkin said he expects to be in the lineup when the Detroit Red Wings open their season against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-D, NHL.TV).

"I'm absolutely ready to play," said the center, who sustained an upper-body injury when he was checked into the boards during practice on Tuesday. "I … wasn't feeling great, so I came off and ended up getting some tests, but I felt great today. I was able to do everything without any trouble."

Larkin, who led Detroit with 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) in 76 games last season, wore an orange no-contact jersey, but Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said it was a matter of being overly careful.

"We wanted to be very cautious today, just until we saw how he felt out there," Blashill said. "We might do that again tomorrow, but I expect him to be in the lineup on Saturday."

Andreas Athanasiou did not practice Thursday and is questionable to face the Predators; the center is out with an undisclosed injury that has sidelined him for most of the preseason.

"I'd characterize it as a nagging problem," Blashill said. "At this point, it depends on if he can practice tomorrow. If he can get on the ice, he'll probably be a game-time decision. If he can't, it will be really tough for him to play after missing this much practice."

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