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Andersson had premonition about return

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

It look liked Joakim Andersson scored on his first shift since being recalled by the Red Wings last Saturday. But the first-period goal was overturned by video review for being offsides. (Photo by Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. – As winter turns to spring in western Michigan, Joakim Andersson had a hunch he’d be back in Detroit for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I didn’t talk to them at all about it before, but I knew they kept me for this time of year as a depth guy,” Andersson said. “It was in the back of my head but I was a little bit surprised.”

Andersson will be in the lineup tonight when the Red Wings face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference series at Amalie Arena.

“Just excited to be back here for the playoffs and the fun time starts,” Andersson said. “They’ve used me in the playoffs before a couple of years ago and last year, so I know what it’s about and I enjoy these games.”

In February, the club decided to give Andreas Athanasiou a second look this season. The speedy rookie made an immediate impact, which made Andersson expendable at the time.

But now, with the playoffs being an even tighter checking brand than the regular season and with every mistake on the ice magnified, the club recalled Andersson for the season finale against the New York Rangers, and reassigned rookie Anthony Mantha to Grand Rapids.

“It’s funny when we looked back at film of previous playoffs, and even last year, he showed up in a lot of good clips against Tampa,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Andersson has been around. You do remember the playoffs series against Anaheim and Chicago a couple of years ago he’s a third line center. He’s got playoff experience. He knows how to play the game. Lots of time in the playoffs you just have to manage your shifts because nothing is going to happen and he’s OK with that.”

More than likely, Andersson will get less ice time in this series but they’ll be harder minutes with the fourth liners Athanasiou and Luke Glendening. The situation seems to be ideal for Andersson, who will also be counted on to kill penalties and win faceoffs in the defensive zone.

“I enjoy the playoffs. It’s more physical, it’s tight games,” he said. “The series last year against Tampa there was no room. They have some good skilled players, so it’s a great opportunity for us and like I said, I enjoy this time of year. I don’t know if it fits me better or not, I can’t tell that but we had a good playoff series against these guys last year, so we should have a good chance again this year.”

The 27-year-old Andersson played in 28 games with the Red Wings before he was sent to the American Hockey League in mid-February. He didn’t take the reassignment as a punishment; instead, he went to Grand Rapids and worked on getting prepared for the NHL postseason.

“I played a lot more minutes and that’s what I needed,” he said. “I was in and out and not many minutes when I was in (in Detroit), so I needed to play hockey, and it should help me now that I’m back here.

“I needed to play to be able to come back at this time of year to be successful, I mean, I was in and out of the lineup and I didn’t play as much when I was in. So I needed to get some minutes for my legs to get skating again. So whatever, those 19 games or something (in Grand Rapids), I had a defensive role but I got a lot of minutes, so it was good.”

Andersson, who played in all seven postseason games last spring, gives the club safer defensive options than Mantha, Tomas Jurco or Teemu Pulkkinen can give them against the Lightning.

“He’s not going to force something that’s not there, but he’s a good enough player to make a play when there is an opportunity,” Blashill said. “He adds depth to our penalty kill. It’s something we chose during the season not to bring up, but we knew come playoff time we wanted to have five guys sitting on our bench we were comfortable killing. We felt with him and Athanasiou we have a couple extra guys that we can use in different areas. Athanasiou doesn’t win enough faceoffs to put him out in a D-zone faceoff penalty kill situation and Andersson does. Athanasiou brings us lots of speed and does a good job in the PK forecheck so it gives us flexibility on the PK.”


TOGETHER KNIGHTS: For the second time in their NHL careers – but the first time in the NHL playoffs – former OHL teammates Athanasiou and Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov will face-off against one another.

Athanasiou and Namestnikov were teammates for two seasons (2010-12) with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League.

“I had a lot of fun with him. He’s a really good guy,” Athanasiou said. “But tonight on the ice I don’t think we can be buddies too much. But after the game I’ll always go say ‘hi’ to him. We were good friends in London, so it’s always good to see him.”

Namestnikov led the Knights in goals in 2009-10 and in assists the following season.

FAMILIAR FOES: For the 29th time in club history the Red Wings will face an opponent in the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The Wings have an 18-10 overall series record in the second of back-to-back series. However, they haven’t fared as well lately, dropping three of four series since 2001.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg believes this year’s team is in a better position to win their first-round series against the Lightning, who captured last year’s tilt in seven games.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this one will go deep, too,” Zetterberg said. “We played good enough last year to go through but they did it. They found a way to win and went all the way to the finals. We have to find that extra thing that takes you over the hump. You got to find a way to win. They did it last year and we have to do it this year.”

Here are the results involving the Wings’ same opponent in consecutive playoff years:

Montreal Maroons
1932: lost total goals series 3-1
1933: won total goals series 5-2

Toronto Maple Leafs
1939: lost best of three series 2-1
1940: lost best-of-three series 2-0

Boston Bruins
1941: lost Cup finals 4-0
1942: won best-of-three series 2-0

Toronto Maple Leafs
1942: lost Cup finals 4-3
1943: won semifinals 4-2

Boston Bruins
1943: won Cup finals 4-0
1944: won semifinals 4-3

Toronto Maple Leafs
1947: lost semifinals 4-1
1948: lost Cup finals 4-0
1949: lost Cup finals 4-0
1950: won semifinals 4-3

Montreal Canadiens
1951: lost semifinals 4-2
1952: won Cup finals 4-0

Toronto Maple Leafs
1954: won semifinals 4-1
1955: won semifinals 4-0
1956: won semifinals 4-1

Montreal Canadiens
1954: won Cup finals 4-3
1955: won Cup finals 4-3
1956: lost Cup finals 4-1

Toronto Maple Leafs
1960: lost semifinals 4-2
1961: won semifinals 4-1

Chicago Blackhawks
1963: won semifinals 4-2
1964: won semifinals 4-3
1965: lost semifinals 4-3
1966: won semifinals 4-2

Toronto Maple Leafs
1963: lost Cup finals 4-1
1964: lost Cup finals 4-3

Edmonton Oilers
1987: lost conference finals 4-1
1988: lost conference finals 4-1

Toronto Maple Leafs
1987: won second round 4-3
1988: won first round 4-2

San Jose Sharks
1994: lost first round 4-3
1995: won second round 4-0

Colorado Avalanche
1996: lost conference finals 4-2
1997: won conference finals 4-2

St. Louis Blues
1996: won second round 4-3
1997: won first round 4-2
1998: won second round 4-2

Los Angeles Kings
2000: won first round 4-0
2001: lost first round 4-2

Pittsburgh Penguins
2008: won Cup finals 4-2
2009: lost Cup finals 4-3

Phoenix Coyotes
2010: won first round 4-3
2011: won first round 4-0

San Jose Sharks
2010: lost second round 4-1
2011: lost second round 4-3

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