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Notes: Abdelkader and Daley ready to return

Bowey surprised by being put on waivers; Athanasiou out

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- Nothing is really official in the NHL until it actually happens, especially when it comes to injured players returning to the lineup.

So even though alternate captain Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Trevor Daley have been practicing with the Red Wings, whether they're playing Tuesday night in Winnipeg remains an open question.

Daley, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Nov. 4, has missed Detroit's last 16 games. He's been cleared to play by team doctors, but he was a little cautious about when he'll see his first action in over a month.

"I think tomorrow (Tuesday) after the morning skate, I'll get a good feel and see how I feel after a good skate today and go from there," Daley told reporters after Monday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "I've been in this situation before where I've missed a period of time. That's frustrating. But I'm excited just to get back and help out and take it one shift at a time and see how it goes."

Signed as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017, the 5-foot-11, 199-pound blueliner has dealt with the injury bug the last two seasons with the Wings.

After playing in 77 games in 2017-18, Daley was limited to 44 games in 2018-19 and thus far this season, he's played in 11 of the Red Wings' 31 games.

Daley, 36, was asked if he's had to modify his training methods as he's aged and he revealed it's an ongoing process.

"I've been trying to figure that out. I've only known one way and then you deal with different injuries that don't allow you to train the way you are normally accustomed to training," he said. "The new athletic group we brought in this year has been a big help to me, find different ways and different minds to work with me to figure out how to deal with the situations I need to deal with.

"Dealing with this the last two years has been different. You're learning as you go. There's really no book or proper way to figure it out, you just got to deal with what works for you."

It has been a vexing couple of years for Daley as mentally he's ready to play, but his body has different ideas.

"It's been tough putting a string of games together. I go back to the game in Carolina (Nov. 1), I felt amazing, and the next night (Nov. 2 at Florida) I didn't feel so good. Hopefully this time we can get it right," Daley said. "This is all I know, to go out and play hockey. It's really frustrating that way. Learn a little bit about yourself and body and figure out how to make it right. I still want play, I still love playing. I want to make it right."

Abdelkader, like Daley, feels he's ready to return, but he wasn't definitive as to whether it'll be against the Jets on Tuesday in Winnipeg or if it'll be sometime later this week.

He's missed the Wings' last 15 games with a hand injury suffered after he blocked a shot late in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 10.

"I felt pretty good, yeah. We'll see how we do tomorrow," Abdelkader said after Monday's practice. "It (his hand) feels pretty good. It's one of those things. Sometimes these things take a little while and be sore for a bit, but (once) you feel you can have your strength and not be tentative out there, or worried about not being able to make a play (he'll be back in the lineup).

"Like I said, it's been feeling kind of better each day. This was the best day I've had. It's one of those things where you want to make sure you're going out and playing as close as you can to 100 percent. You want to make sure you have that strength on a part that when holding the stick, it's important to have that strength for the battles. I don't want to hurt the team when I'm out there, too. But it's been great to be able to skate the whole time, so I've been feeling really good in practice." 

As one of the team's leaders, Abdelkader has tried to remain involved with his teammates despite not being able to play.

"I'm around the rink every day. I think that's a part of staying engaged. Being around the guys and practicing, even though I hadn't been practicing with the team," Abdelkader said. "Being able to skate out there. It was tough at the start when guys were on the road so much. You're not feeling like you're so much around the guys and part of the team. It's been better since the guys have been around and being able to practice with them."

Not being able to contribute on the ice has been difficult for the former Michigan State Spartans forward, yet Abdelkader feels the Wings must stay unified as they try and work their out of their current slide.

"I don't know if any of us have been through this. We have to make sure that we're coming to work every day," Abdelkader said. "It's a privilege to play in the NHL. We're very lucky and we have fans that come and pay each and every game and we must make sure we're giving forth our best effort. Sometimes that's not going to predict an outcome either way but we're going to make sure we're working hard each and every day in practice and in each and every game.

"As much as I can I try to keep the guys positive and I think we've had a lot of good stretches in a lot of games. We've just been on the losing end. We (need to) make sure we're staying with it. It's a long season, it's 82 games. We must make sure we're building, we're getting better, and we're going to be better because of these experiences in the long run."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Carley Johnston caught up with Trevor Daley, Justin Abdelkader and Coach Blashill following today's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. #DETvsWPG tomorrow. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/8t1S2yH6GL

BOWEY PUT ON WAIVERS: Defenseman Madison Bowey was put on waivers by the Red Wings on Monday and it caught the 24-year-old off-guard.

"Yeah, for sure a little bit," said a disappointed Bowey when asked if the move surprised him. "I think I just have to move on now and keep working hard. I've been making great progress all year. I think a few tough games there in a row but other than that, I thought I played well."

Bowey was informed of the news in a meeting with Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and coach Jeff Blashill.

"It was a good talk and I'm moving forward now," Bowey said.

He was asked if he thought he was given a fair chance by the Red Wings.

"Everyone gets a chance here," he replied. "I think there's an opportunity and guys are working hard and that's just how it is. I know I can play in this league and I just have to go out there and if I'm either down in Grand Rapids or up with another team, I think I know what it takes to prove myself and to play good."

Acquired in a trade for Nick Jensen on Feb. 22, 2019, Bowey has been inconsistent with the Red Wings. He has shown playmaking ability along with being too careless at times with the puck, leading to glaring turnovers.

If he's not claimed by another team by noon on Tuesday, he'll be assigned to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

Blashill told reporters the move was made based on playing time and Bowey's game management with the puck.

"If he's not claimed off waivers, he'll end up being sent to Grand Rapids and play out west for Grand Rapids," Blashill said. "The question that was asked to me was is he in the lineup and my answer was no. Certainly, if I'm a player, I disagree with that decision and I get that all day long, but I don't think anybody can disagree that at 24 years old, he's got to play hockey. So let's let him play hockey.

"Game management for a defenseman is a huge thing. Going out there, the ability to know when to make a play, when not to make a play, especially if you have skill enough to pass the puck and make those types of things, it just becomes game management and minimizing your mistakes and quality plays.

"I think as you're younger and you're growing, you have to learn a little bit. It can't be a big mistake and a big play and a big mistake and a big play, it's got to be a whole bunch of solid plays with very few big mistakes. I just think it's a process that's a learned process."

Bowey has played in 22 games for the Wings this season. He has one goal among his eight points. He's minus-13 and has been assessed 16 penalty minutes, with an ice time average of 17:46 per game.

Along with Dennis Cholowski (2-6-8), Bowey's eight points is tied for second most among Red Wings defensemen. Filip Hronek leads Detroit's defensive corps in scoring (6-8-14).

ATHANASIOU NOT TRAVELING TO WINNIPEG: After Andreas Athanasiou missed Sunday's practice, Blashill was hopeful the speedy forward would be available for Monday's practice and Tuesday's clash at Winnipeg.

But Athanasiou didn't practice on Monday and will not be making the trip to Winnipeg.

"Double-A won't be available tomorrow, we're hoping he'll be available Thursday. It's a day-to-day issue," Blashill said. "We're actually leaving him here with the hope he can play Thursday (at home against Winnipeg)."

Athanasiou injured himself in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Penguins, but it doesn't appear to be a long-term setback. 

As far as Abdelkader and Daley, Blashill was somewhat unsure of their status, but was leaning towards the pair playing against the Jets on Tuesday.

"We'll go through the process of it but we anticipate both of those guys playing," Blashill said. "I think the important part would be Daley coming back and getting to the level that he's played at at different points at his time with us.

"He's went through so many injuries over the last two years that he hasn't gotten his game to the level it was when he first got here, so if he can get going a little bit -- it's going to take him some time to get to that full speed -- but if he can get going a little bit, get him back to full speed, Dales has been a real good player in this league for a long time, he can help us for sure."

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