At this point late in the season, it behooves the Red Wings as a franchise more to lose for Hughes than it does to play good hockey. But that hasn’t stopped Detroit’s players from winning six of their last seven games, and it hasn’t held young speedster Andreas Athanasiou back from enjoying a springtime hot streak.
The Motor City’s own Greek(-Canadian) Freak picked up goal number 30 on the year in a 4-0 Red Wings win on Friday night against the checked-out Devils. It was his eighth goal of the past 12 games, and he got it the way he gets so many others—by skating faster than everybody else on the ice. On this play, Athanasiou got the puck in stride in his own zone, then proceeded to just breeze by a trio of Satan-worshippers before burying the puck in the net.
Athanasiou’s M.O. is simple, it makes sense, and yet it can be absolutely unstoppable. He can score all on his own within six seconds of a center-circle faceoff. He can literally go the entire length of the ice to beat a team. And, like in this play earlier in the week against the Sharks, he can transform any turnover into a deadly weapon.
He’s got a lot of room still to develop as an all-around player, but the 24-year-old’s rocket boosters already allow him to make thrilling plays that others can’t. In my favorite goal of his from the year, back in January against Nashville, Athanasiou almost loses control of the puck as he enters the attacking zone. For pretty much any other player, Dan Hamhuis’s poke check would be enough to put the puck out of reach and under control of the goalie. But Athanasiou’s superhuman acceleration allows him to regain possession at the last possible moment and backhand a shocking goal past Pekka Rinne.
Someone check this dude’s skates for nitrous oxide.