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Notes: Athanasiou out, Lorito in; Habs bring the JV

Red Wings reflect on the Joe's last weekend

by Arthur J.Regner & Dana Wakiji @arthurjregner @Dwakiji /

Red Wings sniper Andreas Athanasiou will not be in Saturday's lineup against Montreal as he is still nursing an injury he suffered when he was cross-checked in the back against Carolina.

Athanasiou was sent crashing into Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack while he was scoring the game-winning goal in overtime at Carolina on March 27. 

Lack lay motionless on the ice for several minutes after the play and was removed on a stretcher; fortunately, he was not seriously hurt.

Up until today, Athanasiou has only missed one game since the cross-check, against the Hurricanes on March 28. He played in the next four games and did not register a point.

"AA (Athanasiou) is out, he skated today and said he hopes to play tomorrow," Wings coach Jeff Blashill told reporters after Saturday's morning skate. "(Matt) Lorito is in, playing on line with (Dylan) Larkin and (Justin) Abdelkader. He's also on the PP (power play).

"He (Athanasiou) didn't practice the other day, so he's still not ready to go."

This season Athanasiou has notched 18 goals, second most on the Wings, and has registered 29 points.

CANADIENS NOT ALL HERE: Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien will not have all hands on deck for their final game at Joe Louis Arena.

With the Canadiens secure in their spot at the top of the Atlantic Division, Julien announced Friday that Carey Price, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Markov, Alexander Radulov, Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin would not make the trip.

"As I said to our guys, we're going to get a group of players from Montreal that's going to work extremely hard," Blashill said. "I know that for sure. It might not be quite as talented as the group they have on a normal basis but they're going to be real good NHL players and they're going to work, so we got to be ready to work."

Instead of Price or Al Montoya, the Canadiens plan to start Charlie Lindgren in goal.

Lindgren will be making his second career start. He made 31 saves April 3 in a victory at the Florida Panthers.

"That's kind of what happens around this time," Helm said. "They're not moving up or down in the standings so it makes sense for them to rest some of their top end guys that log a lot of minutes. Give them some rest. I don't think it's really going to change the game too much. They're still going to be a good team and it's going to be a competitive game. Hopefully we give the fans a good game."

RED WINGS WILL TAKE IT ALL IN: With only two games remaining at Joe Louis Arena, the Wings admitted on Saturday that they will have the old barn in the back of their minds this weekend.

"It's going to be special. I believe there are going to be parts of the game when you are just looking around and trying to see what it was like to play here and try to memorize maybe the best thing about playing here," said Tomas Tatar."What have you accomplished here? I think you will get caught a few times. I can imagine the people, how they will react to that, too. The fans will go crazy, too, I think.

Justin Abdelkader wants the Wings to send the Joe out in style.

"We're all looking forward to these last two games at home and closing out the Joe. Hopefully we can end these with a couple wins. Just going to finish hard and close out a historic building," Abdelkader said.

"It's weird. I'm sort of feeling excited about the fact that we've got two pretty eventful days coming up here. And it's sad that we're saying goodbye to the Joe at the same time," said Darren Helm. "There's a different buzz going on around the locker room. We're going to have some fun and play hard these last couple of games."

ZETTERBERG HITS 1,000 GAMES PLAYED: Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will be honored before Sunday's game in a ceremony commemorating his 1000th NHL game, which just happens to coincide with the last game at the Joe.

"That it will end up at tomorrow's game makes it even more special," Zetterberg said. "I couldn't have picked a better game, I think. Just how it all fell out to be that game is remarkable."

He was frank and funny when he was asked how he feels about his last games at the Joe and seeing all the Wings Alumni that will be here for Sunday's game.

"It's going to be emotional. We have a lot of players who have played for this team coming in so it's going to be a lot of faces that you played with," said Zetterberg. "To be honest, I probably played more games with a lot of those guys than with the guys I'm playing with this year. It's going to be a special day and a special night."

HOWARD IN GOAL FOR LAST GAME AT THE JOE: Veteran Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal for the Wings on Sunday, a start that he knows will be significant in Red Wings history.

"It is humbling to be able to do that, to be able to be the guy with all the great guys (goalies) that have played here as we all know," Howard said. "So it's an honor and humbling at the same time. I'm looking forward to it, I don't think it really has sunk in just yet, it probably will when I wake up in the morning."

As much as he enjoys playing at Joe Louis, there is one part of the building he will not miss, the lively plywood boards, which could wreak havoc at times during a game.

"They're a pain in the butt, to be honest with you, but that's what makes the Joe unique," Howard said with a laugh. "The boards, the end boards can change a game whether it's a tricky bounce coming off of them or one that just comes screaming off, you just never know."

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