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Green's return comes at good time

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Mike Green has been sidelined with a groin injury since Sept. 23 when he played in his only preseason game with the Red Wings. He will play Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROITMike Green will be back in the lineup when the Red Wings conclude the home portion of their preseason tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The veteran defenseman returns after missing the last four exhibition games with a groin injury.

“Just being cautious … doing the right thing here to make sure I feel good for Game 1,” said Green, referring to the Wings’ season opener a week from tonight.

Green has played one preseason game – a 4-1 win over Chicago on Sept. 23. He had a plus-1 rating while logging 17 minutes of ice time against the Blackhawks.

“I’m excited to play tonight,” he said. “I really enjoyed that first game that I got to play with the guys to expend, sort of, on the system and getting everything sort of fine tuned before the season starts.”

A free-agent acquisition last July, Green is expected to give an offensive boost to the Wings’ defense that has struggled to put up points.

Throughout his 10-season career, Green – who turns 30 years old this month – has been one of the best power-play defensemen in the league. Since 2006-07, Green registered 162 points on the Washington Capitals’ power play – only six active NHL defensemen produced more in the past nine seasons.

Now that he’s back in the lineup, the biggest adjustment is getting some work on the power play. Tonight against the Leafs, Green will work alongside Tomas Tatar, Brad Richards, Dylan Larkin and Riley Sheahan on the second PP unit.

“It was an easy transition in the sense of the guys have been great and the atmosphere is been incredible, so that was the easy part,” Green said. “It’s just getting the system down and feeling good on the ice. Overall, everything has been so positive for myself, so I’m over the moon with how things have gone. I’m happy.”

Unfortunately, Green returns to a defensive unit that is dealing with a handful of injuries or illness as the preseason wraps up. Jakub Kindl (illness), Kyle Quincey (lower body) and Alexey Marchenko (unknown) all skated Friday.

It was expected that Green would start the regular season paired with Danny DeKeyser, but with news that he’ll be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a foot injury, coach Jeff Blashill has another roster decision to make.

Xavier Ouellet will skate with Green tonight, but that could change for the season opener next Friday again Toronto.

“Xavier is a very smart hockey player,” Blashill said. “I think Alexei Marchenko is a very smart hockey player. Nick Jensen is smart. Ryan Sproul brings a skill set, Brian Lashoff brings a skill set. We’ll make a decision after the weekend. We’ll get a chance to watch these guys play a couple more games and decide who the best fit is.”

TONIGHT’S LINEUP: Here are the line combinations and defensive pairings that Blashill will deploy against the Maple Leafs tonight at Joe Louis Arena:

FORWARDS
Justin Abdelkader
Henrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist
Dylan Larkin
Brad RichardsTomas Tatar
Johan Franzen
Riley Sheahan—Andy Miele
Drew Miller
Louis-Marc Aubry—Dan Cleary

DEFENSEMEN
Niklas Kronwall
Jonathan Ericsson
Xavier Ouellet
Mike Green
Brian Lashoff
Nick Jensen

GOALIES
Jimmy Howard
Tom McCollum

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