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Abbie is Center of Attention

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Justin Abdelkader won 227 face-offs last season, fifth best on the Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
For the third straight game, the Red Wings will insert a new face in at fourth line center.

Tonight, Justin Abdelkader will start the game against the San Jose Sharks, playing between forwards Drew Miller and Tomas Holmstrom. Miller started Tuesday’s game in Columbus at fourth line center, and rookie Cory Emmerton drew the assignment in the previous five games.

“I'm comfortable. I played center pretty much my whole career,” Abdelkader said. “I feel pretty comfortable on wing, too. It's an easy switch. It's not going to affect me in any way. It'll be fun. I enjoy playing center or wing, just go out there and keep doing the same thing.”

Even though it’s the first time that he’s played the position this season, Abdelkader said he’s stayed sharp at taking face-offs in practice.

“You’ve got to be ready to jump in and take face-offs,” he said. “Sometimes it can be tougher when you only take one or two a game, to get into a groove. You don't get into a tendency. When you take more face-offs during a game you kind of know the tendencies of the other guy. You have a little feel for it, too.”

Through the first seven games, Abdelkader has been pressed into the circle 17 times. However, last season he won 52.8 percent of the 430 draws that he took.

“Last year working with (Kris) Draper quite a bit, just taking draws against Helmer and Fil and Pav, bounce some ideas off each other, just working at it,” he said. “When you get to this level all the guys are really good at face-offs and take pride in them. Just got to get that experience, see what works and what doesn't.”

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