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Green out, day-to-day

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Florida's Aaron Ekblad and Detroit's Dylan Larkin became friends at the All-Star Game in Nashville. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT -- The Red Wings will be without one of their goal scorers from Saturday's victory.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Mike Green tweaked his groin a little bit and is day-to-day.

"I don’t think it’s anything too, too serious, but the best I can say right now is day to day," Blashill said.

Jakub Kindl, recalled when the Wings were in Florida last week, will take Green's spot in the lineup and will pair with Brendan Smith.

"I think one of the advantages for Jakub was that he was down in Grand Rapids and had an opportunity to play," Blashill said. "I think that’s a huge advantage. I’ve watched guys that when they sit for two months and try to play it’s extraordinarily hard, whereas that gives the call-up guys way more of an advantage, because they’re down there playing. The levels aren’t that much different. The adjustment is the adjustment, so Jakub has done a good job over his career here. He’ll have an opportunity to be on the power play. That’s one area where I think he has excelled. Just probably hasn’t gotten too many opportunities. So, to play to his strengths means he’s a great outlet passer. He’s got to make sure he’s tight-gapped and he’s gotta be real good on the power play."

EURO TWINS STAY TOGETHER: After Saturday's 5-1 win over the New York Islanders, Blashill said he wanted to keep captain Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together for a little while.

That makes Datsyuk very happy.

"It was like holiday," Datsyuk said after Monday's morning skate. "It's fun to play together but we don't need to forget about effort. If the team be winning, we be still together longer. We will try to make it more good thing for team."

Justin Abdelkader is on that line, a place he's been before.

"I think they both think the game really similar," Abdelkader said. "When they've had stretches they've played really well together. They haven't had a number of games where they've been together in recent years but I think yeah, especially at home you can get the match-up you want, so it can work to our advantage. Hopefully we can continue to move forward. I thought as a line we had good chemistry last game so that was a positive."

Blashill said when he first talked to Zetterberg and Datsyuk about it, they hoped to stay together for more than one game.

"It generally takes a little bit of time to create that chemistry," Blashill said. "I thought they showed flashes of it the other night, but I think there’s more there as well. So I think, given some time, we’re hoping that they really, again, they’re both good separate, we hope that there’s some synergy involved in the line."

DOUBLE-A WITH TATAR, NYQUIST: Keeping Zetterberg and Datsyuk together means that the other teams' top players will be focused on that line, which could help other lines, including the new one with Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

"Obviously Double A brings tons of speed, which I think creates rush opportunities," Blashill said. "All three are real good on the rush. Nyquie scored tons of goals in his career here on the entries and on the rush. Not to say they certainly can’t create in the O-zone opportunities as well. We think they can be a dangerous line offensively."

Although Tatar and Nyquist haven't played much with Athanasiou, it didn't take long for them to get going.

Tatar scored a goal Saturday on a rebound of Athanasiou's shot.

"He's a great skater," Tatar said. "We can really use him, he can create lots of open space for me and Nyquie so it's fun to play with him for sure."

Both Tatar and Nyquist compared Athanasiou's speed with that of Dylan Larkin.

"They both have tremendous speed, they kind of create their chances almost by themselves just because of their speed," Nyquist said. "Defenders have to back off. He's got a good shot, too, he showed that on Tats' goal. It was a hard shot that the goalie couldn't control. Tats managed to get on the rebound there so he provides a lot of speed and energy and makes plays. Good player."

Blashill did say that there is some flexibility available during the game.

"The one thing that we did the other night, we had flexibility to move guys on different lines at different times," Blashill said. "I think (Tomas) Jurco’s goal is an example of that, where he was up with Nyquist and Double-A on that particular one. Tats had taken a shift up. That’s based on things like coming off power plays, coming off penalty kills. Make sure the right ice time is given out to the right guys as much as we can."

LEARNING FROM YOUR ELDERS: When Larkin went to the All-Star Game in Nashville, he had a chance to spend some time with Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

"It was cool to see how he handles everything," Larkin said. "We're kind of in the same position but he's more experienced. I'm amazed at how well he handles all the attention, being the face of a franchise at a young age, I'd say. It's pretty cool. He's a great guy and it's awesome to get to know him."

Ekblad, a Windsor native who grew up idolizing Nick Lidstrom, turned 20 on Sunday. He won the Calder Trophy last season.

"We played in the All-Star thing together and possibly could get a chance to play together at the World Cup (on the young stars team)," Ekblad said. "No chance do I take it lightly on him on the ice, but definitely a friend and I hope to get to know him better as our careers continue in the NHL. He's been through just as much as I have and in a short time. Obviously I'll tell him some of the stories of my time here in Florida and maybe that helps him."

Ekblad was able to celebrate both his own birthday Sunday and his father's birthday today.

"Got to go home for Super Bowl Sunday and have a couple of my dad's homemade steaks," Ekblad said. "It was a good birthday."

Ekblad has 10 goals and 12 assists and leads all NHL defensemen with a plus-21.

In six career games against the Wings, Ekblad has one goal and five assists.

AGELESS WONDER: Jaromir Jagr, more than twice the age of Ekblad and Larkin, will play in his 1,600th NHL game tonight.

In 38 games against the Wings, Jagr has 12 goals and 24 assists.

Jagr, who turns 44 on Feb. 15, was also at the All-Star Game and was impressed with Larkin.

"Everything is about his speed," Jagr said. "I think he's the fastest skater in the league, maybe in all time. That's his advantage and I think it's going to even show a little bit more later in the season when guys are getting tired. Whoever's got the legs and can skate, they are kind of dominating the game. Last game we got beat by two guys who skate very well, (Kris) Letang and (Sidney) Crosby. You could see the guys getting a little bit tired and those guys who've got the legs, they are dominating the game, and Larkin is one of those guys."

Jagr is in fourth place on the NHL's all-time list with 1,839 career points, just 11 behind Gordie Howe's 1,850. He needs one power-play point to reach 594, which would tie Steve Yzerman for 10th all-time.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SMITTY: It was a fun Super Bowl Sunday/birthday for Brendan Smith, whose brother Reilly is in town to play for the Panthers tonight.

The brothers celebrated with their parents, Diedre and Lester.

Smith turns 27 today.

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