Will Tuesday’s Healthy Scratch Help or Hurt Filip Zadina?

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Red Wings forward Filip Zadina has struggled to score goals this season, and head coach Jeff Blashill thought it best to keep him out of Detroit’s 6-2 win over San Jose on Tuesday. From Brad Galli at WXYZ in Detroit, Zadina said this regarding his healthy scratch:

“I was disappointed for sure and I was pissed,” he said. “But I feel better than I felt a week ago when we played those games. I’m excited to be back and get things going again.”

Later on, Galli quoted Blashill as saying Zadina is more than a goal scorer, which harkens back to something Blashill spoke of before. He wants Zadina to play winning hockey, whether that means making plays that lead to it or scoring goals.

I wrote in the past that I attribute much of this to a mental block. Much like an author with writer’s block or a ballplayer with “the yips,” sometimes we’re our own worse enemy.

Though management has spoken about the importance of Zadina being more all around and playing “winning hockey,” there’s no doubt the expectations when he was drafted–and after– was to score goals. This season, he’s stuck at four and didn’t register one in December, though two weeks of games were wiped out by a pause due to Covid. He had ample time on the power play, and still, the goals weren’t coming. Some of it has been some rotten luck and looking at Zadina’s ixG of 6.79 per Evolving-Hockey shows that he’s due for a little more on the score sheet.

At some point.

There’s another argument of linemates and the absence of Jakub Vrana. Not to mention with lower numbers, it keeps Zadina’s extension dollars on his expiring entry-level deal very reasonable. But with a lack of scoring, and now a healthy scratch, could it lead to a familiar conclusion we’ve seen with other Red Wings?

Could it Lead to Something Else for Zadina?

Last year after Anthony Mantha was scratched, I looked at what that could ultimately mean. In what portion of the article, I actually compared it to Andreas Athanasiou, who had the same love-hate at times with Red Wings management and was ultimately shipped out. Mantha was scuffling a bit during the early part of the season, and found himself on the outside looking in. Just two months before the trade deadline, I wrote this

In short: if Yzerman finds value in moving someone, outside of Dylan Larkin, he’ll make the deal that makes the most sense for the Detroit Red Wings.

Yzerman dealt Mantha to Washington at the deadline’s deadline and the rest is history.

While Zadina doesn’t seem to have the same issues that Athanasiou and Mantha had (which always seemed about consistent compete level), I couldn’t help but wonder if the healthy scratch was another sign of things to come.

As I ended my article about Mantha a year ago, we know what’s provided by the media via interviews and we know what’s seen on the ice. We’re not privy to the locker room, or other conversations being had.

We also never really know what Yzerman will do.

With the game postponed tonight and pushed to Sunday, we’ll all have to wait another couple nights to see if the healthy scratch helped.

But if the same trends continue, one can only wonder if another change of scenery could happen for a Red Wings first round draft pick.

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