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Notes: Ben Street latest Red Wings' emergency call-up

Xavier Ouellet gets first opportunity to play in hometown of Montreal

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

MONTREAL - Another day, another emergency call-up for the Red Wings.

The Wings brought forward Ben Street up from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in case someone can't play tonight in Montreal.

"With the younger prospects, this is a situation where a guy may or may not play," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "And you sure don't want a guy's first NHL game and potentially fly parents in and then they don't play. So that's one thing we're very cognizant of. Two, probably just as importantly, with younger prospects, and I've been in this situation lots of times, they're way better off just continuing to focus on playing down there and developing, rather than the roller coaster ride of up and down, up and down. So that's something that we stay very cognizant of.

"Three, Ben Street's somebody who I know can have no problem stepping in and doing a good job if called upon. He won't be fazed by the moment. We've got confidence that Ben can be a good player if we need him to play tonight."

Street, 30, has played in 29 NHL games between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche.

As for who might not be able to play, the most likely candidate is Frans Nielsen, who blocked a shot during a penalty kill in the second period against the Buffalo Sabres Monday night in Detroit.

Nielsen went to the dressing room but returned later in the period and finished the game.

With the Griffins, Street has 23 goals and 28 assists in 57 games. "He's a really smart, really good hockey player," Blashill said.

"He's played the point on the power play in Grand Rapids, which kind of tells you the trust level that the coaches have with him down there. He can kill penalties, he's a good two-way player, similar to (Tomas) Nosek that he's really smart. Nosek's I'd say a little bit bigger, Street's a quick player, knows how to get open, knows how to stretch the ice to create offense. He was in Abbotsford when I was in Grand Rapids, he was an excellent player there. I've known Ben a long time. He's a really, really good hockey player."

The Griffins are currently first in the Central Division with 85 points, one ahead of the Chicago Wolves.

"We think success in Grand Rapids and potential long playoff run is a huge part of development and that's been a process that we've gone about here for the last five, six years or whatever and that continues to be," Blashill said. "So keeping those guys in position where they're having success is a real important thing and hopefully they can continue to finish this regular season strong and then go on a long playoff run. That's a huge thing for development."

BIG NIGHT FOR X: The Wings play the Montreal Canadiens a lot now that they're both in the Atlantic Division.

But every time they've been in his hometown of Montreal, Xavier Ouellet has either been in Grand Rapids or been a healthy scratch as he was Nov. 12.

But tonight, Ouellet will play in front of at least 20 family members and friends at the Bell Centre for the first time.

Ouellet got tickets for his parents, brother and sister and the rest either bought tickets before the season just in case or are finding other ways to track down tickets.

TATAR ON FIRE: Whether it was puck luck or something else, the odds are now working for Tomas Tatar, who has six goals in his last six games, including four in his last three.

"Honestly, I think he's played well all season, I've said that before," Blashill said. "I think he was playing well when he wasn't scoring, the pucks weren't going in. Right now pucks are going in. When pucks go in, you feel real good about yourself for sure and the net probably looks a little bit bigger. You probably get eager to shoot a little bit more. That's one thing for sure that at times when it's not going great, sometimes you don't shoot enough. I think right now he's ready to shoot everything. which he should because they're going in."

Tatar has nine goals and four assists in his last 14 games.

"One thing, when you play with Henrik Zetterberg, which he's done on and off throughout the year, you're going to get delivered lots of pucks at the right time," Blashill noted. "Everybody that's played with Hank has scored. (Anthony) Mantha's scored, (Dylan) Larkin scored last year, Tats has scored, (Gustav Nyquist) has scored. When you play with Hank you're going to get pucks delivered to you at the right time and Tats certainly knows how to finish."

As for Mantha, Blashill believes he's on the right track.

"Last two periods were the best two periods he's played since he's been back," Blashill said. "I didn't think prior to that he was moving his feet enough. When he skates he's a great player, when he doesn't skate he's not as good a player and I thought the last two periods was the best I've seen him since he's been back. Much more skating, much more being engaged, winning enough puck battles. You gotta win puck battles and you gotta skate in this league to have success. I thought he did a lot better job of that the last two periods."

Mantha was a healthy scratch March 10 and 12.

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