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Notes: Red Wings looking forward, not at the past

Larkin questionable, Athanasiou out versus Jets; Mantha returns to practice

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

DETROIT- It's not so much the Red Wings have run out of answers when asked about their current 12-game winless streak (0-10-2), because there is only one answer to extinguish this miserable free fall.

Win a hockey game.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Morning prep. #RedWings vs. Jets tonight - 7:30. @FOXSportsDet Plus // @971theticketxyt

"It's been quite a challenge for us, to say the least. But it's exactly right. At the end of the day, you have to go out and win a game," alternate captain Luke Glendening said after Thursday's morning skate at Little Caesars Arena. "You can't think about the last game. We know what we're stuck in the middle of and stuck in the midst of in terms of a pretty bad streak here but you can't let that affect the way that you're going to play tonight.

"If things go well, if things go poorly, you have to keep pushing. I've said it but I am proud of the way these guys as a team, we've competed and we've worked. But we must find a way to get results."

Glendening acknowledged it's been a delicate balance of when he needs to ride teammates and when he needs to take a step back. But the former captain of the Michigan Wolverines realizes there is only so much he can do to urge his teammates on during these adverse times.

"I said this after Tuesday's game, we're all part of the problem here so for me, just looking in the mirror, how can I help? How can I be better? I know no one's happy being where we are but it takes a lot of self-reflection," Glendening said. "You want to be part of the solution so you have to figure out ways to do that. I've always said you have to look at yourself before you can say anything to anyone else. Just making sure your stuff is in order and that you're doing everything you can."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill agrees with Glendening -- at this point it's simple what the Red Wings need to do.

"Win. We got to focus on doing the things it takes to win," Blashill said. "The one thing we've talked tons about is whatever happened on Tuesday is over. Anything that happened previous to today is over. We have to have a great next-game, next-shift mentality.

"I think we've done a pretty good job. I thought we did a real good job Tuesday coming out and playing hard right off the bat. It didn't go our way, I get it. Now we got to reset ourselves and worry about today. "We can't worry about yesterday. Yesterday is gone. We learned from it this morning. We had a meeting. Now let's do everything we can to win a hockey game tonight and that's all that's on our minds right now."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Jeff Blashill ahead of tonight's rematch with the Jets at Little Caesars Arena.

ZADINA BACK, UNCERTAIN IF HE'LL STAY: Whenever Filip Zadina enters the dressing room after a practice or a morning skate, the 20-year-old right wing is swarmed by reporters.

Thursday morning was no exception.

Zadina patiently fielded questions, which mainly centered on if he's done enough to stay in Detroit or if he is worried he could be sent back down to Grand Rapids.

"I think it's a day by day or a game by game," Zadina said about his status. "It's kind of mentally tough right now but it is what NHL is all about. I'm here and want to do my best and help the team.

"I proved to myself that I can be here. Obviously I want to be better. But probably the reason why I'm still staying here, probably doing good and they like it so far. I just have to keep going, that's it, and stay as long as I can."

On Wednesday, Zadina and defensemen Dennis Cholowski and Dylan McIlrath were assigned to Grand Rapids.

But on Thursday, Zadina and McIlrath were recalled to Detroit.

"(Steve Yzerman) called me yesterday and said just stay here. He told me what it's about (being sent down) he described the things so I just stayed here," Zadina said. "It's like nothing has changed, I guess. I'm still here in Detroit and still trying to prove to them to stay here as long as I can. He had to do that for some reason. It's nothing bad. I don't know what to say. He had to do that, he's done it and it's all over with and done with. So now it's like the new game."

Blashill was asked about what was going on with Zadina and why would he be sent down one day and called back up the next day.

"I'll let you get a hold of Steve (Yzerman). In the end, it was roster management that really Steve should talk about and not me. Nothing big," Blashill replied. "It's tough but it's also reality of this business, you have the opportunity to be sent down. It's a super-competitive business.

"My message to him is control what he can control and that's go out and play great hockey. Everybody wants guys that are playing great hockey. He's just got to continue to focus on what he can control and that's his play."

Blashill did reiterate about how much Zadina, the Wings' top pick in the 2018 draft (sixth overall) has improved from last year to now.

"He's a better player today than he was a year ago, he's a better player than he was in the fall. Those things for sure. That's great for him, great for the organization and great for us," Blashill said. "Why he is better? Is it strength that he put on this summer? Potentially. Is it confidence? For sure. Is it learning? He's not super-fast, he's not super-big, so he has to do it with his brain. It's hard to do it with your brain right away. Sometimes you have to learn over time how to create that space.

"So I think all those factors, added strength, learning how to create space and confidence, have all allowed him to be a better player today than he was at the beginning of the year."

Zadina is beginning to get a better feel for the NHL, but he's certainly not comfortable.

"I can be comfortable in this league (after) four or five years in the league, you know what I mean? I just need to be the guy who's trying to earn the spot," he said. "Right now (I'm trying) to feel comfortable on the ice but it will come at some point, just want to stay here and play in the best league in the world.

"It's getting better for sure and I think I know where I'm supposed to be on the ice during the time I spend there. It's getting better for sure."

In seven games with the Wings, Zadina hasn't scored a goal, has three assists, is minus-2, hasn't been assessed a penalty and has registered nine shots on goal with an ice time average of 14:10 per game.

LARKIN QUESTIONABLE, ATHANASIOU STILL OUT: If the Red Wings are going to finally going to snap their 12-game winless streak on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, they may have to do it without their three top goal scorers from last season.

Dylan Larkin led the Wings in goals last year with 32, followed by Andreas Athanasiou's 30 and Anthony Mantha was third with 25.

Larkin (8-12-20) is a game-time decision against the Jets because he's a little under the weather.

Athanasiou (5-10-15) is out for Thursday and will miss his second consecutive game after sustaining an injury in Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mantha (12-11-23) has been sidelined since he suffered a lower-body injury on Nov. 23, in the Wings' 5-1 loss at New Jersey.

"Dylan is questionable for tonight. He's not feeling great right now. Day to day," was how Blashill began his media session after Thursday's morning skate. "Andreas is out and (with) Dylan (being) questionable, we'd dress 11 (forwards) and seven (defenseman)."

Blashill did say things are starting to improve on the injury front, offering updates on several key Wings, beginning with Mantha, who practiced on Thursday with the Red Wings for the first time since his injury.

"He's (Mantha) getting closer for sure," Blashill said. "He's skated pretty good here the last couple of days, so he's getting closer, is he ready for the weekend? I don't know that answer yet, I think he'd like to be which is great, he wants to play, he wants to be in the lineup, he wants to make a difference, but whether he's ready or not will be up to the doctors.

"Howie (Jimmy Howard) is getting way closer for sure, he's looking like he's getting closer. Again, is he ready for the weekend? I cannot comment on that, I'll talk to Jeff Salajko (goaltending coach) and see how he did. He had a pretty good session there after we left the ice, I'll talk to the training staff. He needs…the thing about goaltenders you cannot ease your way into it, you have to be ready to go full out.

"I'd also say (Danny) DeKeyser is getting closer, he's skating with less pain, he's going longer durations, so he's getting closer to playing too, not this weekend or anything like that, he's taking steps in the right direction."

Detroit leads the NHL in total man games lost with 125.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: #WPGvsDET projected* lineup.*Larkin is questionable.

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