Andreas Athanasiou is an X-factor player for Red Wings
Of Andreas Athanasiou, above, Jimmy Howard says: “It seems like out of nowhere he can make something happen and put it in the back of the net.”
While there are a few players in the NHL who can consistently score goals, there are far fewer who can both create scoring chances on their own and then put the puck in the net on a regular basis.
Andreas Athanasiou is one of those players.
“We talk about guys who have an X-factor. He can score a goal out of nowhere,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Just the way he skates, he’s going to get opportunities because of the talent he is.”
Athanasiou – who is second on the Red Wings with 17 goals (Dylan Larkin has 18) – has been a bright spot in the Red Wings’ recent struggles with six goals in the last nine games.
“I just think he’s using his speed to his advantage, and his shiftiness out there,” Jimmy Howard said. “He’s finding ways to get open, he’s using his speed to get in behind the defense and he’s getting rewarded for it.”
Athanasiou has scored on so many of the breakaways produced by his tremendous speed, it is notable that he was thwarted on breakaways in Friday night’s 4-2 loss in Winnipeg and Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.
“It seems like out of nowhere he can make something happen and put it in the back of the net,” Howard said. “He’s very talented. He’s got great hands and a great shot. … He can beat goalies.”
Athanasiou, 24, showed flashes of his ability early in his career – he scored 18 goals as a rookie in 2016-17 and 16 last season – but he was inconsistent. There was even talk that Detroit might trade him in the offseason.
Clearly, the organization clearly made the right decision to stick with him.
“He’s been a real good player, but he’s established himself as a consistently good player for our hockey team,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said.
Athanasiou puts it simply.
“I play hard every night and bring my game,” he said. “And do what I have to do to be ready come game time.”