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Notebook: Svechnikov's family nearby; lineup for Pens

Zetterberg, Kronwall, Pulkkinen still working their way back from injuries

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - If you can't be at home, sometimes home can come to you.

That's the case this season for Evgeny Svechnikov, who will be playing with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins this season.

Svechnikov, who turns 20 on Halloween, now has family living not too far away.

Svechnikov's 16-year-old brother, Andrei, is a rookie center with the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks and their mother, Elena, has moved to Muskegon to live with him.

The two will be about 45 minutes from Grand Rapids.

"My brother already played two games regular season so it's exciting," Svechnikov said after Tuesday's morning skate. "It's exciting for me and my mom, going to be close to each other. It's some support for me because my mom's going to be here and for my brother, too. So it's going to be great year for us."

Andrei has one assist in the two games.

Tonight, Svechnikov will get his first crack at a different team as he plays in the preseason against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I had a chance to see him play in Grand Rapids in the playoffs," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think his impact on the game is going to be the biggest thing. What's going to be his impact? He's got an ability to make plays. He really likes to make plays. He probably likes to pass it more than he likes to shoot it even though he's got a good shot, so we got to get him to shoot the puck a little bit more. But he has the ability to make plays. He's heavy down low, so what's his impact on the game? That'll come down to how strong he is on the puck, how many plays he makes and how he manages the game, making sure he doesn't have turnovers in those critical areas coming out of our zone and in the neutral zone."

Svechnikov did score in the Red-White Game.

He said the time in Grand Rapids helped him a lot.

"It was two games for me and I think I took a lot of experience from there, watch how everybody play there, pro hockey, how fast it is and the speed of the game and how they move the puck and everything. It was huge for me," Svechnikov said.

Svechnikov said professional hockey is a different game.

"It's all about details in pro hockey," Svechnikov said. "Obviously I learn a lot about hockey and how to play here last few years in juniors but pro hockey, it's all about details. On ice, even off ice. I learn a lot about details even little things I didn't know. So it's good for me that I know a lot more things now."

Blashill said he heard from the staff in Grand Rapids that Svechnikov really wants to improve in every area.

"He spends extra time on the ice working on stuff," Blashill said. "It's an adjustment learning the details of it and how detailed we are, make sure he does it right every shift. That's an adjustment for young guys, especially creative young guys. When guys are creative they tend to be a little less detailed. That's not a bad thing, that's just a difference in personalities. I think as he continues through the process here he'll learn those little details as well but it'll all start from his creativity."

Svechnikov remained in Detroit over the summer and said he added about six pounds of muscle. He's currently listed at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds.

"He's got a thicker body to begin with," Blashill said. "I think he's somebody who, the one thing I heard about him when we drafted him was he really has an inner drive. I think that's showed in his off-ice approach."

When he was drafted, Svechnikov professed his love for cookies and chocolate milk.

But being in the Wings organization for more than a year, he's learned from team dietitian Lisa McDowell.

"It's different nutrition right now," Svechnikov said. "You got to be a little careful with that, but I still love it."

LINEUPS FOR FIRST PRESEASON GAME: The Wings face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first preseason game tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Based on the morning skate, this is how the Wings will line up:

Gustav Nyquist-Darren Helm-Riley Sheahan Eric Tangradi-Matt Lorito-Mitch Callahan Evgeny Svechnikov-Ben Street-Mike Borkowski Givani Smith-Louis-Marc Aubry-Colin Campbell

Jonathan Ericsson-Mike Green Nathan Paetsch-Nick Jensen Dan Renouf-Joe Hicketts

Jimmy Howard Jared Coreau

Blashill said Howard and Coreau will split time in net.

With a lot of young kids in the lineup, Blashill talked about what he expects from them in the first preseason game.

"One thing that shows up in games and doesn't always show up in practice is hockey smarts," Blashill said. "In games reading and reacting is a real critical thing. Hockey is so fluid, so hockey smarts is one and two would just be their competitive battle, one-on-one battles, how many one-on-one puck races do they win. Those would be two things that would show up. In practice you can see their skill set, see how fast they are, how they skate but can that translate to games because of your hockey smarts and competitiveness."

It will be the first career preseason game for Hicketts, Renouf, Smith and Borkowski.

INJURY UPDATES: Henrik Zetterberg (knee), Niklas Kronwall (knee) and Teemu Pulkkinen (shoulder surgery) are all working their way back from injury.

"Pulkkinen, for him it's a matter of two things, it's a timeline until his doctors allow him to play full," Blashill said. "That timeline doesn't go until next Friday, so he won't play until one of those two Toronto games and we'll just get him one, probably. He's just trying to get his legs going a little bit. Zetterberg and Kronwall are day-to-day. They skated today, they won't skate tomorrow, they'll skate Thursday and we'll just take it day by day and see where it's at."

WORLD CUP UPDATES: Although Justin Abdelkader, Petr Mrazek and Alexey Marchenko's teams are done in the World Cup, they have not yet rejoined the Wings.

Blashill expects both Abdelkader and Mrazek to practice with the Wings Wednesday but they won't play in Boston, most likely not until Friday.

"Give them a few days to really get going," Blashill said. "I gave them five days off to try to get them some mental refreshness. Abby's first game was a war, exhibition game against Canada, so I thought it was important to give them five days off."

Blashill expects Marchenko back on Friday.

Tomas Tatar, Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek are all in the World Cup Finals with Team Europe.

"I'd be interested to see the guys that played on Europe, whenever they finish, if they want to take their five days or not," Blashill said. "Obviously we have two new guys in Nielsen and Vanek, they're more than welcome to take those days off but do they want to keep that momentum they built. So there's probably a fine line between getting mentally fresh and keeping that momentum."

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