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Notes: Red Wings hope to buck post-bye losing trend

Goaltender Jimmy Howard in holding pattern; Jared Coreau sent to Griffins for conditioning

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT - The Red Wings managed to take advantage of the Washington Capitals last week when the Capitals were coming off their bye.

Now it's the Wings' turn. Following Tuesday night's game, the Wings won't play again until next Tuesday in Vancouver.

They will have just Monday's practice before that contest. Teams have gone 4-12-4 in their first game after their bye.

"I don't think there's any magic plan," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We're going to have to come up with the right approach, have the right type of practice. What's our pre-game skate going to look like on that Tuesday? You can't make up for five days with a pre-game skate and a practice, so we got to be careful there. The No. 1 thing is we're going to have to have lots of energy in Vancouver. I bet you lots of those games (teams coming out of break) are close. The one we won against Washington, them coming out of the break, was a shootout game. So we got to make sure we find a way to win a hockey game."

There's a certain rhythm players get into when they're playing almost every other night.

"You come after the break, the teams are riding the train so it's kind of hard to get back into it," Tomas Tatar said. "But everybody's responsible to get ready over the break too and focus, do something extra maybe to keep your same pace and that's what we will have to do. It's going to be a tough stretch for us and we have to be ready."

For Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who averages more ice time than any other forward on the team, the break is probably a good thing.

"I thought when we came back from the All-Star break, even though we didn't get the result we wanted, we started to play some good hockey," Zetterberg said. "We had a lot of pace in our game and it was something hopefully we can get again when we get refreshed both mentally and physically and come back and go on the road and grind out some wins."

Many players are heading somewhere warm to thaw out a bit from the winter.

"There is never a bad time to take a break," Justin Abdelkader said. "We've worked hard to this point; the schedule has been compressed quite a bit and we've had played a lot of games, had a lot of back-to-backs. Hopefully everyone has a real nice break and comes back refreshed.

"Obviously, guys will be working out and staying in shape so we'll hit the ground running when we play Vancouver."

Brendan Smith will visit his brother Reilly, who plays for the Florida Panthers, but he doesn't plan to just lay on the beach the whole time.

"It's professional hockey," Smith said. "You got to come prepared and I think that's the biggest thing. We're in a different position than some other teams and we have to be ready at all times."

HOWARD ON HOLD: Goaltender Jimmy Howard is in a holding pattern.

"Jimmy right now will go on break," Jeff Blashill said after Tuesday's game against the Islanders. "He hasn't made as much progress as we wanted him to. He still can't do certain things in the butterfly position. It's a tough injury for a goalie. It's obviously the same injury, to a large degree a similar injury that kept Carey Price out most of last year. Jimmy is trying to get back but we're going to have to take it day by day."

Howard, who injured his right knee on Dec. 20 in Tampa, played in two rehabilitation starts for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins on Feb. 8 and 10.

In the second game with the Griffins, Howard had to leave in the middle of the third period because he felt a tweak.

Howard rejoined the Wings on the road in Columbus Feb. 11 and has been working with the team since then.

"It's getting better but it's still there," Howard said. "It's frustrating but sometimes you're just going to have to continue to work through it."

Howard said he wasn't going anywhere during the bye. He planned to stay in metro Detroit and do some rehabilitation.

"It's tough but it's part of dealing with an injury sometimes," Howard said. "Sometimes they can linger. We're doing everything that's possible. We're doing everything as far as the training staff, skating, working on things, we're really trying to push it, it's just one of those things."

COREAU TO GR: Petr Mrazek has been getting most of the starts lately, so the Wings have sent Jared Coreau to Grand Rapids for conditioning during the bye.

Coreau's last start was Feb. 12 in Minnesota, a game in which he allowed six goals on 30 shots.

Coreau will return to the Wings after the bye.

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