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Notes: Mantha goes on IR; Bernier could be back after break

Nielsen back but Erne out against Pacific-leading Coyotes

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings just got forward Anthony Mantha back and now they're without him again.

On Sunday before the game against the Arizona Coyotes, the Wings placed Mantha on injured reserve and recalled goaltender Jimmy Howard.

"We put him on IR, so he's out at least that seven days," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "He's not available tonight, not available the first game after the break. Past that, I don't know."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Coach Blashill on Anthony Mantha, Jonathan Bernier and tonight's matchup with the Coyotes. #ARIvsDET #LGRW

The hope is that with the three-day holiday break, Mantha won't have to miss much more time.

In the third period of Saturday's game in Toronto, Mantha tussled with Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin, who then body slammed Mantha to the ice.

Mantha was on the ice for several minutes before skating off with assistance.

"I don't think it'll be anything (real long term) but he's still going through some testing," Blashill said. "I don't want to speak on something I don't have exact specifics on. We don't know the specifics yet.

"We're all going on break here. He's going to take a couple days to just rest and then when we get back, I'll have more in terms of where he's at that way."

Mantha had played in just four games since returning from missing eight games with a knee injury.

"I didn't think he was quite going yet either," Blashill said. "This is what happens a little bit when you go in and go out because of injury. You start to lose the rhythm of your game a little bit. He definitely wasn't as good this time coming back yet. He was still trying to find his legs, find his rhythm. I think when you put somebody back in the lineup, you think, 'Oh, that's the Anthony Mantha that left." But that's not how it works, especially the more time you miss. We've had a number of players that's affected, where they missed multiple games during the course of the last couple seasons and they can't get to their game because it's constantly intermittent, things causing them to stop. It'll be a challenge that Anthony is going to have to conquer."

Mantha is second on the Wings in scoring with 24 points (12-12-24) to Tyler Bertuzzi's 29 points (13-16-29).

BERNIER AND ERNE: Earlier in the first period of the Toronto game, goaltender Jonathan Bernier had to leave with a sore groin and was replaced by Calvin Pickard.

"We didn't put him on IR," Blashill said. "He's not available tonight. Whether he's available that first game after the break, I don't know yet. We'll see how the healing process goes."

There was another injury from that game that went under the radar.

"Adam Erne's out. I don't think it's anything huge but he's out for tonight," Blashill said. "He's played pretty good hockey the last little bit. I think Adam's trended up and he's played pretty good hockey. So again, I don't think it's anything long-term but it's going to keep him out tonight."

Frans Nielsen, who missed the Toronto game due to illness, is expected to play against the Coyotes.

With injuries and illness, the Wings have a total of 145 man-games lost.

"It's been interesting. It certainly has been challenging," Blashill acknowledged. "When you lose guys that are real important to your team and if you're not super deep with NHL proven players, then it gets more challenging. Now the thing is as a coach and as a team, you can't worry about what you don't have, you worry about what you have and those guys gotta go out and play great. I've said it before, the extent that you miss guys just depends on how well other guys play. So it is good opportunity for other guys. If Anthony's there, he's filling huge roles on the power play, filling big roles on the top line. Other guys are going to get those opportunities and now they need to make sure they play great hockey."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Happy Birthday Malts! 🥳🎂

COYOTES ON TOP: After a tough opponent in the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn't get any easier as the Wings welcome the Pacific Division-leading Coyotes (20-13-4, 44 points).

The Coyotes got even better with the trade with the New Jersey Devils for elite forward Taylor Hall, who has two assists in two games since joining the team.

"They play fast and now they're faster," Blashill said. "There's two things that make you fast. One is speed and one's how you play and they do both. They were already playing fast, Tocc (Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet) has them playing a fast style. They go north out of their zone and they can really counterattack on you. Then when you add Taylor Hall, you add a whole other element of elite speed and skill. It certainly makes them even more dangerous. They've got a very, very good D corps, obviously (Niklas) Hjalmarsson's been out for a while but they got a very good D corps, which in turn I think has helped their goalies and their goalies have played great. You don't create much against them, they're a really good team. It'll be a real good challenge for us tonight."

The Wings will have to pay special attention in the first period.

The Coyotes are outscoring opponents 36-25, second best in the league to Tampa Bay's plus-13 first-period differential.

The Coyotes have outshot opponents by 82 in the first, which leads the league.

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