Detroit Red Wings: Andreas Athanasiou has Stepped His Game Up

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Andreas Athanasiou #72 of the Detroit Red Wings and Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks battle for the puck during a preseason game at the United Center on September 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 8-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Andreas Athanasiou #72 of the Detroit Red Wings and Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks battle for the puck during a preseason game at the United Center on September 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 8-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Fourth-year center Andreas Athanasiou lacking consistent play in past seasons has been the best Detroit Red Wings forward this preseason. It appears he is ready to turn the corner. If this is indeed the case, it greatly helps the rebuilding Red Wings.

With 4 points vs. the Chicago Blackhawks earlier in the week, it’s just a tease of how good Athanasiou has been during the preseason. It could be said that Andreas has been the best Detroit Red Wings forward pre-regular season.

Andreas Athanasiou has blinding speed, but more than that he has played more physical this preseason. No, really. In that same game vs. the Blackhawks, Andreas had a hard forecheck took the puck away from the Hawks and had a beauty of a pass to Dylan Larkin for a short-handed goal.

This move to center for Athanasiou has been a blessing. The Red Wings count hard on the centers to drop back and help out of defense. The fact that Andreas is doing it is mind-blowing. In past seasons he would be found skating at mid-ice hoping for a breakaway while his linemates would be trying to defend.

It would benefit the Red Wings if Athanasiou had more minutes. His speed and soft hands could see him push 25+ goals. AA can free players up by just his presence if his head is in the game and he is locked in.

So far that is exactly what we have seen, Andreas Athanasiou has been locked in. He has helped on defense and is a highlight reel waiting to happen when he has the puck. It seems he is playing with confidence.

The flashes of greatness AA has shown looks like it is all coming together. His uninspired defensive efforts appear (at least preseason) to be a thing of the past. The trade speculation will end if this is indeed a new and improved Athanasiou.

Often a punching bag from head coach Jeff Blashill has turned to praise. “He’s been great from day one,” Blashill said. His play could not have turned the corner at a better time for the Detroit Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg gone and the Red Wings needing points may have had the player on the roster the whole time.

It is fair to say Athanasiou will never be mistaken for a great defender.  That would be just fine with the Wings who could mask his defensive shortcomings with other players.

Next. 2018 Preseason: Detroit Red Wings Remain Undefeated Clip Hawks. dark

Not long ago we wrote the Detroit Red Wings needed more from Andreas Athanasiou. So far he has provided more.