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Notes: Wings focused on task at hand as trade deadline approaches

Howard ready when called upon; Bernier takes maintenance day, Fabbri doesn't practice

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- Monday's trade deadline is fast approaching and deals have already been made around the league so it's natural that there would be a bit of a different vibe in every dressing room.

The way it's been the last few seasons for the Wings compared to the way it used to be is more apprehension than excitement.

"When you're a good team, when you're a playoff team, this is the really fun week because you're hoping they're going to go out and get you something that can make the team better," Frans Nielsen said after Friday night's loss in Long Island. "But now in this position it's the compete opposite. We're probably going to lose some very good friends that you played with for a long time, so this is a terrible time when you're in this position."

Among the names being bandied about from the Wings are forward Andreas Athanasiou and defenseman Mike Green.

For the veteran Green, it's not his first rodeo so he just goes about his business as normal.

"After being through it many times, it's obviously an odd experience but if you play for a long time, you get used to it," Green said after Saturday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "It's part of the business. Obviously with the relationships, it makes it difficult.

"For me, no, it's not a distraction. I mean, you worry about day to day in this league. Obviously, anything can happen but it's not something I stew over too much."

Forward Luke Glendening says focusing on the immediate task at hand -- Sunday's game against Calgary -- is the only thing to do.

"You can only control what you can control, so you just got o show up and keep doing your job to the best of your ability," Glendening said. "You're here until they tell you something different, so that's the way you got to approach it."

For Wings coach Jeff Blashill, he knows this time of year can be tricky.

"I would say these games around the deadline can be goofy at times," Blashill said. "I've seen them that way. I don't know if I can put a finger on why exactly. Certainly there's some lives that … when you're a guy who might get traded, there's a lot of things that go into it, including your family.

"But it's no different than the challenges we face in being eliminated from the playoffs. We got to worry about coming in here and getting better and going out there and earning that jersey. Regardless of anything that swirls around us, we got to go out every day and earn that jersey."

SHOOT THE PUCK: There was a definite focus during Saturday's practice on shooting the puck and then shooting it some more.

In the first period Friday night against the Islanders, the Wings were outshot in the first period, 13-2.

Detroit is last in the league in shots per game at 27.3, compared to 34.5 for first-place Vegas.

"Sometimes guys get bored with simple," Blashill said. "They want to make plays in areas where maybe there's not plays to be made or they overestimate their ability to make plays in certain situations, where a lot of times the simplicity of just shooting the puck is actually the higher percentage of offense.

"Certainly if you can make the backdoor pass on a consistent basis, you're going to score on those plays but you gotta be able to make them, number one. I would just say, I think this is an issue that most teams have, go through at different times, and my job as a coach is to bring focus to it and make sure that you get back to overshooting the puck."

Things happen very quickly during a game so a pass that appears to be available can disappear in an instant.

"It's so quick, sometimes you think the pass is there and then it gets intercepted, turnover on the other side, so we're backchecking," Anthony Mantha said. "If we get the first shot, we need to get the second puck back. Those are the little details that we're not winning the battles right now. We can't keep the O-zone going. We always play in our zone. It's one shot but then we need to recover the puck and try to get a second and a third in the same shift."

The other aspect of that is that the Wings have also had trouble getting the puck out of their own end and by the time they do, then they are too tired to mount the charge into the opponent's end.

"We haven't been nearly good enough getting pucks out of our end," Mantha said. "Not nearly good enough on the forecheck also to recover pucks. All around, we just spend 70 percent of the game in our zone."

Also for a team that is struggling to score, there can be a tendency to pass up a shot to get a better shot.

"I think we could shoot more," Green said. "I think a lot of the times you get gripping your stick and you second guess, and then the shot's not there anymore. I think that we could focus a lot more on when could focus a lot more on when we get in those areas to shoot the puck, that we just bear down and shoot it and create chaos. That's when the other team will kind of fall back, and then good things happen. It's kind of like a default mode. I feel like just get back to shooting."

HOWARD READY WHEN CALLED UPON: It's not a secret, this has been a miserable season for Jimmy Howard between the pipes.

Howard hasn't won a game since Oct. 29, when he backstopped the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Little Caesars Arena.

For the year, Howard is 2-22-2 with a goals-against average of 4.08 and a save percentage of .886.

"It's not easy, that's for sure," Howard said when asked how he's maintained his focus as the losses mount. "But you have to (stay mentally focused). It's one of those things where you have to be professional and come in and continue to get better every single day."

With Jonathan Bernier the clear-cut No. 1 netminder for the Wings, Howard has put in a lot of extra work during practice with Jeff Salajko, Detroit's goaltending coach, in order to stay sharp.

"Just being out there and competing on every shot in practice. It can be difficult because guys are coming in waves in practice, but you try and treat every shot like it's a game situation," Howard said. "I have no idea what's up Blash's sleeve, right now for me it's just about winning one game and taking it from there.

"I just want to win a bleeping game. That's all."

Blashill was noncommittal when asked if he had a definitive plan for his goalies, particularly Howard, as the season begins to wind down.

"You always look at things on long term and short term, so you have plans. But we also live a little bit day to day," Blashill said. "So there's both sides of it. We make decisions and then we look forward and sometimes we change those depending on what happens. I know what I'm going to do tomorrow. Other than that, we'll keep plugging."

Certainly, Howard is eager to get back in net.

"I play when I'm told, simple as that. I'll play anytime, anywhere, just give me a little heads up."

In 542 games, the career Red Wing is 246-195-70 with a goals-against average of 2.61, a save percentage of .913 and 24 shutouts.

Howard's 246 career wins is third most in Red Wings history, trailing only Chris Osgood (317) and Terry Sawchuk (350).

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: .@Bubzp11 is out at East Side Foundation Hockey Arena teaching kids for #TryHockey For Free Day! @usahockey#LearnPlayScore  

NO BERNIER, FABBRI OR GOLOUBEF: Bernier, forward Robby Fabbri and newly acquired defenseman Cody Goloubef were not at Saturday's practice.

Blashill said Bernier, who is expected to play Sunday against the Calgary Flames, took a maintenance day.

Fabbri played 17:26 Friday night against the Islanders.

"He's nicked up," Blashill said. "I don't know for sure whether he'll be available or not. I anticipate him being available but he is nicked up."

The Wings claimed Goloubef on waivers from the Ottawa Senators but he was not in New York Friday and not in Detroit Saturday.

"We gotta work through some visa issues and just the personal issues of getting here, so I don't have that time yet," Blashill said. "He will not be here tomorrow."

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