Why Filip Zadina feeling fresh and happy matters for Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Filip Zadina is shining as a bright spot amid another dreary season for the Detroit Red Wings.

They head into a four-day break on a three-game losing streak, but Zadina’s performances over the past week give encouragement that he will help the franchise escape the doldrums someday. A two-goal outing Thursday gave him four points in five games.

“I felt really good,” Zadina said. “I was skating a lot and felt fresh and scored a couple goals, which I’m really, really glad for. I didn’t score for a long time and now this. I am happy about what I did on the ice, but unfortunately we lost.”

The Wings played better in Thursday’s 5-2 loss at Carolina than in their previous two games, when they collapsed against the Columbus Blue Jackets (in the second period Tuesday) and the Blackhawks (in the third period Sunday). Zadina twice provided a lead, but the Hurricanes scored three times in the third period, the last time into an empty net with 5:05 to play.

Goaltenders are rarely pulled that early.

“It was a calculated risk and I lost on the risk,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We don’t score very easy, and it was an advantageous situation for us with the icing. We ended up winning the faceoff, but we have to do more with the puck. It’s a calculated risk and when those decisions end up in your net, then it looks like a bad decision.”

The Wings (7-16-3) have five goals their last three games, all of which have been played without top-line forwards Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. Zadina’s line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Sam Gagner has created the most chances during that stretch.

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“We had a couple chances the other game,” Zadina said. “We are all skilled players and want to play with the puck. They gave us some space and we won the battles. It was pretty easy for us — when we win the battles we have the puck and we can create chances like we did and score.”

On the first goal, Gagner flicked the puck down low to Namestnikov, who fed Zadina.

Blashill called them a good line.

“Vladdy was playing really good, Gags played good,” Blashill said “As we get healthier, hopefully we can continue to build more lines.”

Over the weekend, a clearer picture should emerge of who could be back when the Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, but at the very least the expectation is that Larkin will be available.

Zadina went through health issues early in the season, testing positive for COVID–19 and spending two weeks in pandemic protocol. He worked hard to regain his form, and notched his third point of the season, an assist, in his first game back. Two games later, he recorded a goal.

He didn’t score again until Thursday.

“He’s played really, really good hockey,” Blashill said “Last game he took a step backwards, and this game he took a major step forward. Overall, I think he’s played good hockey. It’s a hard league to score in and you can’t get frustrated and you’ve got to stay with it, and he’s done a pretty good job of that.”

Zadina, the sixth pick in the 2018 draft, figures as a key component in the rebuild. He has matured nicely over the past year, showing a willingness to chase down the puck instead of waiting for someone to put it on his stick. But he’s still only 21; he needs the boost a night like Thursday can provide.

“When you are a guy who scores, confidence is a critical thing” Blashill said “For those pucks to go in is important for him. Both were really good goals and hopefully he can continue to build on that. I think he’s played really hard most of the season. I think he’s done it the right way. I think he tries to play from the defensive side of the puck, he tries to check for his chances, and he’s done a really good job of that.”

The goals, on six shots on net, gave Zadina eight points in 19 games.

“Sometimes pucks are going the way you want and you get the puck on your stick and you just feel like you want to shoot it and you see the option to shoot the puck,” Zadina said. “That’s what I did. I probably have to do that more often.”

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Jeff Blashill: Why confidence is critical for Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, March 4, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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