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Notes: Athanasiou skates again, remains game-time decision

Wings excited to finally play a game after practicing all week

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

NASHVILLE -- For the second straight day, Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou was on the ice with his teammates.

Following the morning skate, coach Jeff Blashill said Athanasiou remains a game-time decision.

"It feels pretty good," Athanasiou said. "I'm skating out there, I'm skating well. It's kind of just when it's ready to go, it'll be ready to go. I think I'll give it a feel tonight and see how it is and just go from there."

It has been a bit of a process for Athanasiou throughout training camp and the preseason.

In the annual Red and White Game at camp, Athanasiou scored on a breakaway in the first half and then didn't play the second half.

In his only preseason game, Sept. 20 against the New York Islanders, Athanasiou scored on a breakaway and then wasn't able to play another exhibition.

"Yeah, it's obviously a little bit frustrating, obviously when I get things going and rolling and kind of get halted by some unfortunate things," Athanasiou said. "Caught a rut there in training camp and just a little tweak there and then hitting the boards, there's not much you can do about it. It's part of the game and you gotta do your best to get back as quick as possible."

The two tweaks were different issues.

"Kind of just a little tweak after I scored in the Islanders game," Athanasiou said. "I kind of hit the boards funny and it's just kind of been a tweak that's affecting my skating a little bit. It's feeling pretty good. Just take it by the minute pretty much."

Athanasiou said he wasn't concerned about his conditioning or timing if he is able to play.

"I'm not too worried about that, it's just feeling how it is when I skate and being able to have that explosive first three steps and not have it in the back of my head." Athanasiou said. "It's feeling pretty good, hopefully it'll be ready tonight."

The Wings would welcome Athanasiou's presence in the lineup against the Nashville Predators. In five games against the Preds, Athanasiou has three goals and an assist.

PREDS ALREADY ROLLING: While the Wings have spent the entire week practicing, the Predators have already played their first game.

Two days ago, the Predators defeated the Minnesota Wild, 5-2.

"They're a good team, they've been a good team for a while," Blashill said. "They're one of those teams that's in the mix to be considered a Stanley Cup playoff contender or a Stanley Cup contender. They're a little bit different. Obviously with (P.K.) Subban gone, they look a little bit different on the back end. I watched (Dante) Fabbro play in the world championships, he was excellent for Canada. He's a really good young defenseman so he kind of fills that role pretty good.

"They're deep - they're probably as deep as they've been up front. When you have Kyle Turris on your third line, that's a pretty deep team. And Pekka Rinne's still one of the better goalies in the league so they present challenges. But so does every night. We just gotta make sure we play great hockey."

Eleven different players recorded a point against the Wild. Newcomer Matt Duchene had three assists, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis each had a goal and an assist.

"They're obviously a really good team and playing some really good hockey already," Athanasiou said. "I think it's just coming out here, playing simple off the bat and match their level in their building and roll into our game."

Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was in the starter's net for the morning skate, is 11-8-1 with a 2,38 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and three shutouts in 22 career games against Nashville.

TIME TO GET GOING: After nine preseason games, the Wings did not play all week, joining the Los Angeles Kings as the last two teams to play their opening game.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: The sweet sound of hockey. 😊#DETvsNSH | #LGRW pic.twitter.com/dJbhy6y9FK

"It's exciting, I watched a little bit of hockey the last couple nights," Athanasiou said. "I think everyone in this room is ready to get things going and kick it off tonight."

The frenetic exhibition schedule, which included four games in four nights to wrap up, did not allow much practice time.

The Wings made up for it this past week.

"Part of it is we needed it, more time based on the number of exhibition games we played, we didn't get a lot of practice time as a group of 22 or 23 whatever it is, so we needed some practice time but this could have been a little bit long, you get to just where you want to play," Blashill said. "I know our guys have felt that way. I didn't think our energy was great on Thursday, I thought it was much better on Friday and it was great this morning. Our guys are excited to play."

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