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Notes: Mantha suffers facial fracture but can play with full shield

Abdelkader, Tatar take maintenance days; Kronwall gets 'surprise' in locker

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- Anthony Mantha will now understand what Justin Abdelkader went through.

Mantha left Thursday night's game against Buffalo with about four and a half minutes remaining in the first period.

"Their D tried to clear the puck out and it caught me right in the face," Mantha said. "I'm going today for an appointment and we'll see. Whatever happens with this. They think there's a fracture there but we're getting a second opinion."

Mantha was able to return to the game in the second period wearing a full face shield.

"It is difficult," Mantha said. "When you look down to try to find the puck between your legs, the lower part is kind of weird but I guess you get used to it."

Abdelkader suffered a broken cheekbone in a fight with Calgary's Troy Brouwer and had to wear a full shield for eight weeks.

"I think that was worse," Mantha said. "I don't think it's displaced. I think he had his nose also a little bit fractured or something. I guess is just a clear fracture."

As with Abdelkader, Mantha will be able to play with the injury no matter what the test results say.

"(Tests) revealed a small fracture," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "He'll get the CT scan, which is a better image but similar to Justin Abdelkader, who was able to play with it as long as he had a full shield on. Anthony Mantha would be in the same boat."

MAINTENANCE DAYS: Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar did not practice with the team Friday but Blashill said both took maintenance days and were expected to play Saturday against Carolina.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg, who has been limiting his practice time, did practice with the team.

"I think Zetterberg, regardless of him being off practice, he's been probably our best player over the last month and a half and certainly has continued to be," Blashill said. "He knows how to manage his body."

Zetterberg is second on the Wings in points with 41 to Dylan Larkin's 44. Larkin has nine goals while Zetterberg has eight.

Larkin's 35 assists are almost as many as he had in his first two seasons combined (37).

"I think Larks came into the year with a concerted effort to have more of a give-and-go game," Blashill said. "If things don't go right with Larks, he always goes back to his number one asset, that's his legs and we certainly get that but I think he's also learned to slow the game down at times, learned to change the pace, learned to give and go. I think as a result, he's had more assists because of that."

In 60 games, Larkin has 44 points, one shy of his rookie season total of 45, accomplished in 80 games.

Zetterberg's goal total might be off the pace of last season's 17 but he is second on the team in plus-minus with plus-3 to Jonathan Ericsson's plus-5.

"You look at the production point-wise, you look at scoring chances for and against, Hank gives up such a little amount of scoring chances so his differentiation is always excellent," Blashill said. "Like I said, he's probably been our most consistent and best forward over the last month and a half. A lot of that he hasn't practiced, his brain, his strength on the puck, his competitiveness comes through on a nightly basis. It just shows what a special player that he still is and what he's been throughout his career."

GREEN COULD PLAY: Defenseman Mike Green practiced with the team Friday and is considered a game-time decision for Saturday.

"He skated today. He felt good, so we'll see how he feels tomorrow," Blashill said.

Green is the team's fourth-leading scorer with six goals among his 29 points.

Green has been the subject of many trade rumors as his contract expires at the end of this season.

If he does end up leaving, Green will have left a mark on some of the young players on the Wings.

"Mike's work ethic and his will to win has rubbed off on any young players that's been in this locker room," Blashill said. "He's been excellent. His competitiveness has been excellent. I'm not sure that everybody totally understood. Maybe the perception wasn't quite that. Reality is he comes to work, comes to compete every day. I've been real impressed. So that rubs off on everybody in the locker room.

"I also think when you're trying to get your D to jump in the play, get your D to be part of the offense, it's great to have an example of it. And he's been a great example of how you push the puck up the ice, how you join the play, how you try to push for offense, in what is today's kind of NHL defenseman. So, I think he's been a good example of that as well."

GOALTENDING ISSUES: Jimmy Howard has started the last two games since Petr Mrazek was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.

This weekend the Wings have back-to-back games, Saturday at home against Carolina and Sunday on the road against the New York Rangers.

Jared Coreau was the AHL's player of the week last week but that doesn't guarantee that he will play this weekend.

"We're trying to win hockey games here right now," Blashill said. "I certainly believe Jared Coreau is a good goalie. Jimmy Howard is a proven very good NHL goalie. I'm going to put the lineup out there that gives us the best chance to win right now. We got life in us, we got fight in us, so I'm not looking at it from a standpoint of his personal development. I'm looking at it as who do I put out there to give us the best chance to win."

Howard, a New York state native, has always performed well at Madison Square Garden so the odds are good he will at least play there.

"I'm obviously fully aware that Jimmy plays great at Madison Square Garden," Blashill said. "I'm also aware that Carolina is a team we got to track down in order to make the playoffs. I'll make those decisions, but those things will factor into it."

PRANK YOU VERY MUCH: Kronwall had a "surprise" waiting for him in his locker when he got off the ice after Friday's practice - a cane hanging on his stall.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings Kronwall has a mischievous teammate. Apparently retaliation for another prank. pic.twitter.com/IPSVYjwVqr

"Where's Tuna?" Kronwall asked.

Tuna is Tatar's nickname.

Kronwall, 37, said he was expecting retaliation for an earlier prank which he declined to specify.

"Wow, I'm surprised it took so long," Blashill quipped. "I think the levity's good. This is a highly competitive environment, it's a highly pressurized environment. We want to win bad, games like last night are extraordinarily frustrating, we've had a number of those here in the last couple weeks.

"But every day in the NHL is a great day and that's the reality of it so today's a new day, let's enjoy the time we're here."

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