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Ferraro's first

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Defenseman Jakub Kindl is expected to play in Friday night's home opener, paired with Brendan Smith. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- While all the attention has been on Dylan Larkin, there's another Red Wings forward who will be celebrating his first opening night with the team Friday.

"I'm just excited to get going," Ferraro said. "All my friends and family back home have been asking what it was like when they told you you made the opening night roster. It was a little bit of excitement but it was more relief. It's a lot of years coming into this. I put in a lot of work and I finally put myself in a spot to be here. Like I said, now I gotta make sure that I continue to do that and make sure I earn my spot every night."

Landon Ferraro is slated to play on the fourth line with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

Ferraro was out of options but he still had to make the team this preseason.

"I knew last year playoffs really helped with my chances, but at the same time there were a ton of guys that were trying to make this team that I think more than proved they're ready to be here," Ferraro said. "I'm just fortunate enough that I had a good enough preseason to make sure for PK-wise and my speed on the forecheck that I showed that I could be an asset to the team."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill is very familiar with Ferraro, having coached him the last few seasons in Grand Rapids with the Griffins.

"I think when Landon's playing his best he's using his speed both from a forechecking standpoint, but also as a defensive weapon," Blashill said. "He's great on the track, he tracks hard back, he doesn't give other teams time and space. I think for him to be a real element on our team, he's got to get on the forecheck, he's got to be physical, he's got to create turnovers, he's got to track back hard and he's got to shoot the puck when he gets an opportunity to shoot the puck.

"Landon's another guy, we talk about Teemu Pulkkinen but Landon was a guy in the American League that scored 5-on-5, very prolific rate 5-on-5. We hope some of that can translate. He'll have to be really good defensively as well."

Although Ferraro is not being counted on to score, he can chip in here and there.

Ferraro had 27 goals and 15 assists in 70 games with the Griffins last season. He had one goal in three regular-season games with the Wings and did not score in the postseason.

"You look at what me, Glennie and Millsie could do last year in the playoffs," Ferraro said. "They had a couple points each and I was just happy to be a part of it. All of us have shown that we've been able to score and put up points. Now it's my turn to show that I can do it at this level. I've just got to make sure I'm good defensively and it'll kind of go from there."

LARKIN READY: Speaking of Larkin, he said his dad, Kevin, has been helping him handle the ticket requests for Friday night.

Larkin expects at least 25 family members at the game, plus other friends.

"The whole family's coming into town and it's going to be awesome," Larkin said. "'m trying to think of it as another game and I don't think sleeping will be a problem tonight. I'm pretty excited but ready to go."

Larkin has been to opening night as a fan but will now get to experience it as a player.

He talked about what he looked forward to most.

"I think just skating around the first little lap," Larkin said. "I don't know if we're doing introductions or what. I think skating out and seeing the big crowd and it's going to be a cool feeling."

CLEARY CLEARS WAIVERS: Dan Cleary cleared waivers Thursday at noon but his future remains unclear.

Blashill said general manager Ken Holland was speaking to Cleary when Blashill came out to talk to the media.

Holland told reporters that he's not sure if Cleary will join the Grand Rapids Griffins or not.

The Griffins start the season in Bakersfield, Calif., this weekend and assistant general manager Ryan Martin said Cleary would not travel to California.

KINDL AND MARCHENKO IN, OUELLET OUT: After recovering from an eye infection, Jakub Kindl has been cleared to play.

Blashill said both Kindl and Alexey Marchenko (groin) will be activated and that Kindl will play with Brendan Smith on Friday night.

Xavier Ouellet has been assigned to Grand Rapids and he is traveling to California to join the Griffins for their regular-season opening series against the Bakersfield Condors.

DATSYUK SKATES: Pavel Datsyuk has been working out off-ice but he finally went on the ice Thursday morning.

Datsyuk, who had surgery on June 26 to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle, skated well before his teammates practiced at Joe Louis Arena.

Datsyuk, 37, is not expected to return before late October or early November at the earliest.

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