Abdelkader picking up right where he left off last season

Detroit Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. It was Abdelkader's third goal of the game. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Detroit Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. It was Abdelkader’s third goal of the game. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


DETROIT >> Just two games into the season, Justin Abdelkader is showing that last year’s offensive uptick wasn’t a fluke.

Coming off a career-high 23-goal campaign last season, Abdelkader has four through two games this year.

“I think he’s got great a combination of physicality and skill set and he’s got offensive smarts to go with it,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “I think one of those things, having a physical type presence on a line, sometimes those guys don’t have offensive smarts to play with elite offensive thinkers. He does.

“He’s been a high-end offensive guy through lots of his career,” Blashill continued. “I think what he’s done at this level is learn how to be very good defensively and build his offensive game back up. He’s certainly done that, not only last year but this season.”

After a hat trick to open the season last Friday, the second of his career, he added the winner in the Wings’ 4-3 win over Carolina to go with an assist on Saturday.

“I think it’s always important to get off to a good start regardless of the year,” said Abdelkader, who was named the NHL’s First Star for his past week’s performance. “You always have to prove yourself each and every year. I don’t think there’s more importance this year or the year before. I’m happy with the start, but it’s only two games. You have to keep improving and keep getting better.”

Abdelkader also had a career-high 21 assists last season.

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