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At the Rink: Red Wings at Flames

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

CALGARY -- The Detroit Red Wings will be without center Brad Richards because of a back injury when they look to halt a three-game losing streak against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday (9 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-D).

"His back is acting up a little bit so it looks like he might be out," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We were hoping he'd be fine but it wasn't too good today, so he won't go today. It's a day-to-day thing right now, as far as I know."

Richards signed a one-year contract with Detroit (3-3-0) on July 1 and has two assists in six games. He had 12 goals and 37 points with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, and 14 points in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help Chicago win the Stanley Cup.

Forward Joakim Andersson is expected to take his place in the lineup.

Blashill reconfigured his defensive pairings in an attempt to spark his struggling club.

Brendan Smith, who has been a healthy scratch for the past two games, will dress in place of Jakub Kindl and play alongside Jonathan Ericsson.

"You're looking for the best chemistry, the guys that work the best together," he said. "Sometimes until you try it you don't know. I think, to a man, each guy can still be better regardless of pairings, but hopefully with the pairings we're putting them in a spot to be successful."

Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser will play together, while Mike Green, who also signed July 1, is expected to pair with Niklas Kronwall.

"Sometimes you just need a different element out there," said Green, who has one assist in six games. "I think we're all still trying to feel each other out, at least I am. I think it's a good changeup. I think that we needed it."

The Red Wings will face a new-look defense from the slumping Flames (1-5-0) too.

Ladislav Smid, 29, will play his first game since having surgery in February on the herniated disc in his neck. He will play alongside Dougie Hamilton, while Mark Giordano and Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell and Deryk Engelland will form the other pairs.

The return to Calgary's lineup is an emotional one for Smid.

"I've waited for this for I think nine months now," said Smid, whose Flames have lost four straight and are seeking their first win on home ice this season. "Finally it's here. I've put in a lot of work over the summer. A lot of bag skating obviously and a lot of training. Finally it's here, so there's a lot of excitement."

It's the second neck surgery of Smid's career. He had a similar procedure as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in 2010.

"Mentally and physically it was a lot harder on me," Smid said. "I was nervous about it. After I had a couple meetings with my surgeon, he assured me that if the recovery and the rehab goes well I should be able to come back. He said there's no concern about me retiring."

Here are the projected lineups:

RED WINGS

Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Gustav Nyquist

Tomas Tatar - Dylan Larkin - Teemu Pulkkinen

Darren Helm - Riley Sheahan - Luke Glendening

Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Landon Ferraro

Niklas Kronwall - Mike Green

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brendan Smith - Jonathan Ericsson

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Injured: Johan Franzen (concussion-like symptoms), Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), Brad Richards (back)

Scratched: Jakub Kindl, Tomas Jurco

FLAMES

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Micheal Ferland - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik

Joe Colborne - Sam Bennett - David Jones

Mason Raymond - Matt Stajan - Josh Jooris

Mark Giordano - Dennis Wideman

Kris Russell - Deryk Engelland

Ladislav Smid - Dougie Hamilton

Jonas Hiller

Joni Ortio

Injured: TJ Brodie (hand), Lance Bouma (leg)

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Jakub Nakladal

Status report: The Flames held an optional skate Friday morning. Calgary assigned goaltender Karri Ramo to Stockton of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Who's hot: Zetterberg, who was held without a point for the first time this season in a 3-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, has two goals and seven assists in six games. … Gaudreau leads the Flames with six assists and seven points.

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