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Notes: Athanasiou practices with Wings in New York

He and Bernier won't play Friday but are getting closer; more good news for Bertuzzi

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

NEW YORK -- Reinforcements are not quite ready for battle but they are on the way.

Forward Andreas Athanasiou made the trip to New York and practiced with his Red Wings teammates for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury Dec. 29 in Tampa.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: 👋👋👋👋#DETvsNYR: Tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/FKobdp1d80

"I don't think this weekend," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after the team's practice Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. "My gut would be not tomorrow, not the next day, but I got to get a report once he gets off the ice. The one thing about Andreas is he's a really good skater, so it won't take him much to get feeling good and ready to go, but let's get a report when he gets back."

Athanasiou has missed the last 11 games.

"Today is the first practice with the team, so I'll just take in day by day and practice by practice," Athanasiou said. "See how it feels and hopefully be back soon."

Having the eight-day All-Star break/bye was likely a boon for Athanasiou.

"Anytime with those types of injuries, rehab can only do so much for it," Athanasiou said. "It's kind of just a time thing, letting it heal and just making sure everything stays conditioned when you're ready to come back."

As it's a lower-body issue, Athanasiou said he has not been on the ice that long.

"I skated maybe a couple of times before break," Athanasiou said. "And then after the break, I skated for a couple of days. I think I skated yesterday and the day before, so it's been two days before this practice, my first one. Just kind of letting it heal and it's been getting better. Hopefully I'll get back soon."

Athanasiou, who has five goals and 14 assists in 36 games this season, would still have 29 games left if he was able to return Monday against Philadelphia.

"I think right now it's just trying to get back on the ice at this point," Athanasiou said. "Obviously we know where we are and it's just I want to come back and play hockey with my teammates and play some good hockey. It's just being ready once this injury heals."

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury, practiced with the team before the break but then the break got in the way.

However, Bernier should be ready soon.

"Very close," Blashill said. "I don't anticipate him for tomorrow, but very close. Again, a report once we get back."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Jeff Blashill wraps up today's practice day after the #RedWings returned to the ice following a week-long break. pic.twitter.com/r8DZF3q5Id

Frans Nielsen, who did not play in the final game before the break in Minnesota, is expected to be available to go Friday against the Rangers.

ZADINA READY: The Wings did not want some of their young players like forward Filip Zadina, Givani Smith and Dennis Cholowski to sit the entire duration of the All-Star break and bye, so they sent them to Grand Rapids.

All three were recalled Thursday and are on the quick trip to New York, as is goaltender Calvin Pickard, recalled on Sunday.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: The Detroit #RedWings today recalled right wings Givani Smith and Filip Zadina and defenseman Dennis Cholowski from the AHL���s Grand Rapids Griffins.Details: https://t.co/y09Y8PVI3U pic.twitter.com/FfOSEyNCJm

Zadina played in one game, recording two goals and an assist in a 4-3 overtime win over the San Diego Gulls.

"Yeah, obviously that was huge," Zadina said. "I was glad for it and I appreciate it. I could score two goals and obviously won the game. It was great for us, for the GR team. So it was something different. I'm glad I that I came back and I can play for Red Wings now.

"Right now I'm back here and I'm gonna work my (butt) off to stay here as long as I can and do my best."

Tweet from @griffinshockey: Filip Zadina with a beauty of a power play goal 😍#GoGRG pic.twitter.com/D8stj2BSXJ

Obviously Zadina would prefer to remain with the Wings for the rest of the regular season and try to continue to grow.

"I'm hoping to be a better player," Zadina said. "Every single game, to get a chance to improve myself and be better than I used to be. Just play my best and do everything for a win. For sure to feel good on the ice."

Zadina knows he has shown a lot more this season than he did in his brief nine-game stint last spring.

"Obviously I think I am better than I used to be but obviously I want to be getting better every game, every practice," Zadina said. "I want to be the best, so that's why I've got to prove myself every single day."

That all starts anew Friday night at Madison Square Garden, a storied venue that Zadina has not played a game in yet.

"I'm excited for every single game for Red Wings this season and obviously every single season," Zadina said. "It's going to be different for sure. To play in GR -- I'm not saying they don't have a good rink or crowd. They're huge there. But it's gonna be an NHL crowd right now and it's one of the best rinks in the league, so I'm excited to play here for sure."

MORE GOOD NEWS FOR BERTUZZI: It was a big week in the life of Tyler Bertuzzi. First, the young Wings forward participated in his first All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Bertuzzi did well in the skills competition, scoring on both of his shootout attempts in the Save Streak and recording a fifth-place time of 13.868 in the Accuracy Shooting.

Blashill said he didn't watch the skills competition but would consider Bertuzzi for shootouts.

"We haven't had a shootout in a while, haven't had many at all," Blashill said. "I confer with (goaltending coach) Jeff Salajko on that, so when those decisions are wrong, it's Jeff Salajko's fault. When they're right, it's my decision."

Bertuzzi had four assists in the Atlantic Division's 9-5 takedown of the Metropolitan Division and one goal in the 5-4 loss to the Pacific in the championship game.

"I think in the skills competition I was a little nervous, but the game was just like playing another game," Bertuzzi said. "It was a lot of fun, obviously, it was a good experience for me."

But perhaps the most exciting news came after the All-Star break, when Bertuzzi and his girlfriend, Ashley, were in Miami during the bye.

Instagram from @ashleygreasley: The easiest yes 💍 🖤 can't wait to marry you! @bertuzzi17

"I got engaged in Miami," Bertuzzi said. "It was a good week."

Bertuzzi said they haven't set a date and it won't be this coming summer, most likely the following summer.

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