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Jurco latest Red Wings forward returning to lineup

by Brian Hedger

DETROIT -- One by one, the Detroit Red Wings are making their way from the training room back to the ice.

The tables inside the trainer's office still are crowded, but things finally are starting to thin out in there as the Red Wings look to extend their string of Stanley Cup Playoffs appearances to 23 straight seasons.

After getting center Darren Helm, forward Todd Bertuzzi and forward Joakim Andersson back earlier this week, Detroit gets another player back in rookie forward Tomas Jurco, who will return from a rib injury Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m., ET, TSN, RDS) and start on the top line with Johan Franzen and center David Legwand.

"He probably thinks he's dragging those old guys around," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the morning skate. "I can put [Gustav] Nyquist back there in a heartbeat, but Nyquist on that [second] line is flying. [Jurco] has a skill set, he makes good plays with the puck [and] can really skate. That line needs more tempo. We're trying to have more balance. We need to generate on more than just one line."

Nyquist has a six-game goal streak while playing on a line with center Riley Sheahan and left wing Tomas Tatar. It's become Detroit's most productive group, so Babcock is hesitant to mess with it.

Jurco played in that spot prior to getting hurt and formed a unit that was nicknamed "The Kid Line."

They could reunite during the game Thursday, but probably won't if things are clicking against the Canadiens for Jurco with the veterans. Either way, the Red Wings need to find ways to score goals and win games if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Detroit has 10 games left and started the day tied with three other teams at 80 points; the Red Wings have the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot because they've played one fewer game than the Washington Capitals and two fewer than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Montreal is in better shape as far as the postseason. Their 89 points have them second in the Atlantic Division, which would guarantee them home-ice advantage for at least the quarterfinal round.

"We have to concentrate on the moment," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after the skate. "What we've accomplished in the past can give you confidence [but] we don't want to think too much ahead. It's about [Thursday's] game and our focus has got to be about [Thursday's] game. There's two points for us and we're going to battle."

Jimmy Howard will start in goal for the Red Wings, and Carey Price will start in goal for the Canadiens.

The Canadiens likely will scratch defenseman Douglas Murray and shift around their defense pairings by putting Francis Bouillon into the lineup next to P.K. Subban.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Thomas Vanek

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Rene Bourque - Daniel Briere - Brian Gionta

Ryan White - Lars Eller - Michael Bournival

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Francis Bouillon - P.K. Subban

Mike Weaver - Jarred Tinordi

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: George Parros, Douglas Murray

Injured: Brandon Prust (rib), Dale Weise (hand), Josh Gorges (hand), Travis Moen (concussion-like symptoms)


Johan Franzen - David Legwand - Tomas Jurco

Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Gustav Nyquist

Joakim Andersson - Darren Helm - Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Todd Bertuzzi

Niklas Kronwall - Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery), Justin Abdelkader (leg laceration), Stephen Weiss (hernia), Jonathan Ericsson (broken finger), Daniel Cleary (knee), Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder)

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