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Notes: Miller ready to play after roller coaster ride

Xavier Ouellet has earned regular spot in the lineup with consistent play

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

Hockey may be a game but it's also a business and sometimes business can be difficult.

Drew Miller knows this because he's been through it but that doesn't mean that it didn't hurt when the Red Wings placed him on waivers Sunday.

"For me, it's just going into a personal shell, just kind of push away the waivers and push away the uncertainty and just play hockey," Miller told Mlive.com. "That's all I can do and control what you can control and that's what I'm going to do. I played a lot of games in this league and tonight's just going to be another one and prepare the same and be ready to go."

Through a series of odd circumstances, Miller is back with the Wings and ready to play tonight in Boston.

The team needed room for Niklas Kronwall on Sunday when he returned from injury so Miller went on waivers.

"Obviously, if you want to go on waivers you want to get picked up, and that didn't happen," Miller said. "Whatever the circumstances were, still too early for teams to decide if they're in the playoffs or not, or whatever, those are things I can't really worry about. You just got to go about your business and prepare. I guess I got an opportunity to be back up for now and try to make the most of it."

In Sunday's game, both Thomas Vanek (lower body) and Dylan Larkin (upper body) suffered injuries.

Tomas Jurco is healthy and ready to play but Steve Ott is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in the Centennial Classic.

So when Miller cleared waivers Monday, the team initially assigned him to Grand Rapids but then recalled him because of the injuries.

"Anytime you go on a roller coaster emotionally like that, as a person I think it's hard," Wings coach Jeff Blashill told Mlive.com. "He didn't know for 24 hours where he was going to be. And then I had alerted him that there was a good chance that if he did clear, that he would be with us because of the injuries. He knew that but it's definitely a roller coaster. It's hard on people."

Back in November, 2009, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed Miller on waivers, the Wings claimed him and he became a defensive mainstay with them, especially on the penalty kill.

In eight seasons with the Wings, Miller has played in 483 games with 56 goals and 50 assists while averaging 12:56 in ice time.

The injuries to Vanek and Larkin are not considered to be long-term ones so it's possible Miller's return might not be long-term.

"It's definitely something I'm not going to really think about, Grand Rapids or waivers," Miller said. "I'm just going to think about playing my game and contributing tonight. You never know who's watching, you never know what's going to happen on the team here. Things change quick. Just going to stay positive and play my game and that's all you can really do."

X GAINS FOOTING: Xavier Ouellet began the season out of options and spent quite a bit of time early on as a healthy scratch.

Now Ouellet seems to have solidified a spot in the lineup, playing the last 26 games since returning to the lineup Nov. 26 against the Montreal Canadiens.

"What X has done for me is he's gone in and executed at a pretty high level," Blashill said. "He's had very few nights where he was off. He's had lots of nights when he's on. I think when he's playing his best he's smart, makes real good decisions with the puck and he's able to break the puck out and he's strong as well. I think those are things that have helped us. He's been a real good player for us. He's pushed up north as well. He's got the puck in the neutral zone and not played slow, he's played fast and I think that's something we've done a much better job as we've gone through the season."

Ouellet knows at the NHL level, there can't be wild swings in his level of play.

"You got to be consistent," Ouellet told Mlive.com. "I think the big thing in my game, I was scratched for a little bit and it was kind of hard. I worked really hard when I had a chance to come back, I just didn't want to get out of the lineup. I prepared every game, and still do prepare every game, like it's my last one and I want to help the team win and I think that's what's allowed me to play every night."

Ouellet is tied for third on the team with Vanek, Henrik Zetterberg and Alexey Marchenko in plus-minus at plus-6.

Ouellet said he tries to keep things simple but is also willing to take a chance to jump into the play.

"It's something I want to bring to my game, too," Ouellet said. "I got to stay strong defensively, that's the biggest priority but when I see openings and I feel like there's no danger, I'm going to try to go, I'm going to try to support, create that fourth man rush and stuff like that."

Ouellet has two goals and five assists in 32 games.

GOALTENDING: Jared Coreau will be making his second straight start after making 18 saves in Sunday's 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

That means it is highly likely Petr Mrazek will start at home Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of the back-to-back.

"I think both Jared and Petr the last two games have played excellent so I think both of those guys have played well," Blashill said. "Regarding Jared, the goaltending position more than any other position is hockey is results orientated. You can look good doing it, but if you don't stop the puck it doesn't matter. He's got results the last little bit and obviously he had great results the other night. I think his game is in a position to be successful. I've thought that since the beginning of the year now you have to go out there and get results on a nightly basis."

Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard is starting to work his way back from the knee injury he suffered Dec. 20 at Tampa Bay.

"We're working through a plan," Blashill said. "That plan can take a turn if his health doesn't progress like we think it will. We're working through a plan that will put him in the best position to succeed. I'm not going to talk about that plan, but we're working through it."

Howard took some shots from goaltending coach Jeff Salajko at the morning skate in Boston.

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