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At the Rink: Red Wings at Jets

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The Detroit Red Wings will have a bit of a new look to their roster when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Before the morning skate Thursday, the Red Wings lost center Andrej Nestrasil on waivers to the Carolina Hurricanes. The 23-year-old center had two assists in 13 games with Detroit this season, but the Red Wings placed him on waivers Wednesday after making him a healthy scratch in five of the past eight games.

"I'm not certain, but I heard that there was a whole bunch of teams that tried to claim him," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "[Nestrasil] is a great kid. I wish him well. If he can fit in and help [Carolina] and play every night, that's really good for him."

Babcock will not have center Pavel Datsyuk (groin) in the lineup. Datsyuk accompanied the Red Wings to Winnipeg but did not participate in the morning skate.

The Red Wings recalled defenseman Xavier Ouellet from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League on Wednesday to replace defenseman Brendan Smith, who injured his hand in a fight Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 21-year-old played four games with the Red Wings last season, and had a goal and four assists in 13 games with Grand Rapids this season.

"I'm really excited," Ouellet said. "I've been doing really [well in Grand Rapids] and just waiting for an opportunity, and I guess I have it [Thursday]. My overall game [in Grand Rapids] I think has been solid."

Babcock will use Ouellet on a defensive pairing with Brian Lashoff.

"I just want him to compete, move the puck and play like he can," Babcock said of Ouellet, a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. "He played really well for us in training camp. We didn't have any room for him. We just think that he has played well [in Grand Rapids] and played well for us. He's a good player, he has good hockey sense and he seems to play like a veteran."

Babcock will start goaltender Petr Mrazek, who will make his season debut with the Red Wings. Mrazek went 2-4-0 in nine games last season with Detroit, and had a 1.74 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

"I'm feeling great," Mrazek said. "I'm really excited for this game playing against [Jets starting goaltender] Ondrej Pavelec. [Pavelec and I] are Czech goalies, so that means a lot to me. But even more important is to have a good game here and get two points."

Jets coach Paul Maurice will maintain the same offensive lines and defensive pairings that he used Tuesday in a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils. Maurice has worked to build stability for the Jets, who have remade themselves into a defensively oriented team whose 2.05 goals-against per game ranks fourth in the League.

Playing against an opponent like the Red Wings that has built an identity for several seasons will be an up-close opportunity for the Jets.

"We're still becoming who we are," Maurice said. "Three or four weeks doesn't set a tradition in stone by any means."

Here are the projected lineups:


Gustav NyquistHenrik ZetterbergJohan Franzen

Tomas TatarRiley SheahanJustin Abdelkader

Daniel ClearyDarren HelmTomas Jurco

Drew Miller - Luke GlendeningJoakim Andersson

Jonathan EricssonNiklas Kronwall

Kyle QuinceyDanny DeKeyser

Brian LashoffXavier Ouellet

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Scratched: None

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (groin), Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder), Brendan Smith (hand), Stephen Weiss (groin)


Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler

Evander KaneMathieu PerreaultDustin Byfuglien

Adam LowryMark ScheifeleMichael Frolik

Chris ThorburnJim SlaterMatt Halischuk

Tobias EnstromZach Bogosian

Mark StuartJacob Trouba

Adam PardyPaul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: TJ Galiardi, Anthony Peluso

Injured: Grant Clitsome (illness)

Status report: Mrazek will provide Howard some rest when the Red Wings continue a three-game road trip that will end Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Howard has started nine of the Red Wings' past 10 games…Detroit placed Smith on injured reserve Wednesday…Clitsome will miss his third straight game.

Who's hot: Howard played his 300th NHL game Tuesday and had 28 saves in a 5-0 shutout at Columbus…The Red Wings' five goals Tuesday tied a season high … Frolik has three goals in his past four games after scoring once in his first 16 games.

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