Questionable hits on teammates have Red Wings banding together

Detroit News

Detroit — This Red Wings team is not going to back down.

If a teammate gets hit in a manner outside the confines of the rule book, there will be repercussions.

Dylan Larkin and Filip Zadina have each been the victims of shady hits the first two games of the season. Each time, the Wings have come to their teammate’s defense.

“You’ve seen it pretty early that we’re pretty tight in the room,” defenseman Marc Staal said. “You do something to one of us, it affects all of us and we’re all going to jump in and stick up for each other.”

In the third period of Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Zadina was hit hard by Conor Garland, leaving Zadina face down on the ice.

The Wings quickly rushed in, and for the remainder of the game, made life miserable on several shifts for Garland. Scrums against other Canucks developed.

“It was good to see (Saturday),” Staal said “We’ll continue to play that way.”

The tight team feeling is one of the best things coach Jeff Blashill has seen through preseason and early season play.

Blashill believes the camaraderie will benefit the Wings in the long term.

“When you really care about each other and see something happen to one of your teammates, you get over emotional,” Blashill said. “I’d rather have that than have guys that don’t like each other. We got a whole bunch of guys that care about each other.”

Blashill has liked the way the Wings have stood up to the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Canucks in consecutive games.

“We want to be a unit that comes every single day and fights together and wins together,” Blashill said. ” I mean fighting to find ways to win hockey games. We’ve done a good job over two games so far in terms of competitiveness.”

Both Tampa and Vancouver appeared to want to get into chippy, physical games against the Wings. If more teams want to do that, the Wings are ready.

“It’s reactionary when you see one of your teammates get hurt,” Staal said. “We’re going to compete hard. If it gets chippy like that, that’s the way it’s going to be if teams are going to take liberties with us like that.”

Zadina fumes

Zadina was not happy with the hit by Garland. The hit to Zadina’s head had he and his teammates riled.

“I was just reaching for the puck and he just reversed me I guess, you know, like the midget he is,” Zadina said. “It’s pretty normal that he reversed hit because I don’t think he’s strong enough to battle me in the corner one-on-one. (It was a) stupid hit.”

Garland took an opposite view of the play.

“I kind of hit the brakes trying to create space. I know there’s a guy behind me,” Garland said. “He skated into my back. I grabbed the puck, I stopped and, like I said, I got a penalty for a hit to the head.

“I hope he’s doing well. I’ve taken plenty of hits to the head over my career. Some end up as nothing, some end up as something serious so I wish him nothing but the best.”

Right time for Greiss

Goaltender Thomas Greiss was the primary reason for the Wings’ victory Saturday.

The veteran stopped 40 shots and consistently made difficult saves, frustrating Vancouver.

The game was reminiscent of Greiss’ performance late last season.

At age 35, Greiss has played some of his best hockey the last several seasons when sharing the workload and not being overworked.

Blashill is planning on forming a competitive tandem with Greiss and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Blashill noted early last season Greiss may have been overused when goaltender Jonathan Bernier was injured.

“He (Greiss) ended up playing too much, probably,” Blashill said. “Greiss is a guy, when he gets enough rest, he plays really really good hockey. He has done it throughout his career.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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