Detroit Red Wings’ second line knows it must provide spark, plans to just stay the course

Detroit Free Press

Robby Fabbri can’t pinpoint the reason for the lack of production from the Detroit Red Wings‘ second line this season.

Fabbri believes he and linemates Filip Zadina and Pius Suter have done everything necessary to be a dangerous combination. It hasn’t shown up on the stat sheet.

His advice to them before games and after practices is essentially to stay the course.

“There’s nothing to really change but to put the puck in the net,” Fabbri said Tuesday.

“If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to be all right.”

The top line of Dylan Larkin, Todd Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond has carried the team offensively this season. The second line would like to take some of the burden.

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Fabbri has been one of the Wings’ top offensive threats since they acquired him from St. Louis, the Wings’ opponent on Wednesday, early in the 2019-20 season. He accumulated 14 goals and 31 points in 52 games that season and had 10 goals and 18 points in 30 games last season.

He has gone scoreless over the past seven games and has three goals and five assists in 20 games, with three points coming in the first two games.

“It starts with burying our chances, right?” Fabbri said. “The top line has done a great job for us this year, keeping us in games, winning us games. It’s up to the other 9 or 10 forwards to help out. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be part of that secondary scoring. It hasn’t been going in right now but the line’s been confident with the chances we’ve been getting and creating. We’ve just got to stick with it and eventually it will go in.”

Suter, signed as a free agent after scoring 14 goals in 55 games for Chicago last season, has four goals and seven points. As the team’s top pick in the 2018 draft, Zadina has stood out in an unflattering way when compared to the hot starts by 2019 first-rounder Moritz Seider and 2020 top selection Raymond.

Zadina has two points this month after a two-point outing at Toronto on Oct. 30. Coach Jeff Blashill says Zadina doesn’t necessarily have to score to be effective but it’s tough getting that message across to the young Czech, who turns 22 on Saturday.

“He measures himself as a goal scorer,” Blashill said. “That’s when the frustration sets in.”

Zadina has 18 goals in 106 career games and the franchise remains hopeful he’ll become a prolific threat.

“It’s tough on a young guy like that, to go through that,” Fabbri said. “The biggest thing with him is just stay confident and keep playing the way he’s playing.”

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Fabbri faces former team

Due to the COVID-19 shortened 2019-20 campaign and the division-laden schedule last season, Fabbri will be playing against his former team for the first time. He planned to join about a dozen members of the Blues traveling party for dinner Tuesday.

He’s excited to skate against them Wednesday.

“Circled this one early in the year,” Fabbri said. “Long overdue.”

Fabbri appeared in 10 postseason games during the Blues’ surprising drive to the Stanley Cup in 2019. “That’s not something I’ll ever forget,” he said. “That’s something we’ll share together as a team and as a group that was there when we won.”

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Stecher undergoes wrist surgery

Defenseman Troy Stecher underwent wrist surgery and will be out at least through the Winter Olympics pause in February, Blashill revealed. Stecher appeared in only six games, the last on Nov. 4. He was injured shooting pucks after a practice.

Center Mitchell Stephens will also be out through the Olympics due to a lower body injury, though he won’t require surgery.

Defenseman Marc Staal missed Tuesday’s practice with a non-COVID illness.

Goalie rotation could change

Goaltenders Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss have each started 10 games this season, mainly alternating game-by-game. A compacted schedule was part of the reason but it could change now if either gets hot.

“Now that the schedule is lightening up a little bit, if one of them separates themselves, they’ll play a little more,” Blashill said.

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