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At the Rink: Red Wings at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The morning skate for once didn't end with more injury bad news for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the same couldn't be said for the Detroit Red Wings prior to the their game Tuesday at Nationwide Arena.

Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who has 11 points (five goals and six assists) in 10 games in an injury-plagued season, will not play against the Blue Jackets because of a groin injury.

The Blue Jackets (6-10-1), meanwhile, welcomed the news that leading scorer Ryan Johansen will play after coach Todd Richards on Monday had labeled him as questionable. Johansen (six goals and 20 points in 17 games) was tripped during a partial breakaway Saturday against the San Jose Sharks and rammed his legs into the goal post. He did not practice Monday.

"I wanted to take a day off. We were playing it safe. I'm good," Johansen said. "Nobody wants to be put in a situation when you're on a roll that you're missing a game."

Columbus has won two straight after tying a franchise record with nine straight defeats.

Detroit (8-4-5) has been up and down and will have to face the Blue Jackets without Datsyuk. The Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Friday but lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

"Two games ago we liked our team," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Last game we didn't like our team. We've got to figure out what team we are."

Datsyuk missed games Nov. 7 against the New Jersey Devils and Nov. 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of the groin injury but played Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks and was on the ice for 20:13 Sunday. He also missed the first five games of the season because of a separated shoulder sustained in the preseason.

In Datsyuk's absence, Babcock hopes center Darren Helm, who used the preseason to recover from various injuries, can help fill the void. Helm has a goal and five assists in 17 games.

"He's been injured for so long, now he's trying to find his game," Babcock said.

Columbus will use the same lineup that won the past two games despite forwards Matt Calvert (upper body) and Jack Skille (undisclosed) finally being declared healthy after extended absences from the lineup.

"The guys who were playing in those games had great commitment so a lot of it is a reward for them doing what we needed to do to win," Richards said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Johan Franzen

Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Justin Abdelkader

Daniel ClearyDarren Helm - Tomas Jurco

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Joakim Andersson

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brendan Smith - Brian Lashoff

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Andrej Nestrasil, Jakub Kindl

Injured: Stephen Weiss (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (groin)


Brian Gibbons - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Scott Hartnell - Boone Jenner - Cam Atkinson

Alexander Wennberg - Artem AnisimovAdam Cracknell

Corey Tropp - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Jordan Leopold - David Savard

Tim Erixon - James Wisniewski

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Matt Calvert, Jack Skille

Injured: Fedor Tyutin (knee), Brandon Dubinsky (lower body), Mark Letestu (groin), Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Cody Goloubef (knee)

Status report: If Howard starts as expected, he will reach 300 NHL games, all with Detroit, and will be the sixth goalie to reach that number played for the Red Wings. Terry Sawchuk is the leader with 734… The Blue Jackets claimed defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers Tuesday from the Dallas Stars. He had two assists in eight games for the Stars. Frederic St. Denis was sent to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League to make room for Connauton.

Who's hot: The Blue Jackets' power play (24.8 percent) is tied for fourth in the NHL. They have scored a power-play goal in seven straight home games… Tatar has six points (four goals) in the past eight games after getting one goal in the first nine games.

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