Coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t shy about tinkering with his lines despite the Detroit Red Wings’ season being all of one game old.
After serving as a healthy scratch in the opener, speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou will join captain Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen on the top line on Saturday as the Red Wings continue their trek through the Sunshine State with a visit to the Florida Panthers.
“The bottom line for Andreas is he’s got to win puck battles and win physical battles, and when he does that, he’s a really good player,” Blashill said. “When he doesn’t, nobody is. He knows that, we had a conversation about that the other day.”
While Detroit’s defense and penalty kill were taken to task in a 6-4 setback to Tampa Bay on Thursday, Florida made the most of solid goaltending by veteran Roberto Luongo to emerge victorious on a night that it raised the Atlantic Division banner to the rafters. The 37-year-old made 23 saves to record his 437th win, moving into a tie with Hall of Famer Jacques Plante for sixth place all-time in NHL history. Luongo is just 16-15-5 with a 2.88 goals-against average in 37 career meetings with Detroit, although Florida has won eight of the last 13 encounters between the clubs.
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