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Notes: Coreau gets road start against big Kings team

Wings will be without Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith; Alexey Marchenko and Ryan Sproul return

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Kings are one of the bigger, heavier teams in the league.

So how do you counter that?

"Being big, too," goaltender Jared Coreau said. "I know that's their M.O., they've got some hard players, Dustin Brown and (Jeff) Carter and (Anze) Kopitar's a big guy. That's a way to win is cause havoc at the other team's net and crash and get some rebounds. I'm ready for it. It's just another challenge to face going against the LA Kings."

Coreau isn't starting because he is 6-foot-6 but it can't hurt.

The big rookie goaltender will be making his fifth start, with all five coming on the road.

"I'm excited, everyone talks about this building," Coreau said. "Coming into L.A. last night and this morning, everyone said it's a fun building to play in. I'm excited. I've said before, I'd rather play in a building that's more hostile than I guess quiet. I think energy's a good thing, either if it's against you or if it's with you, I just feed off it either way. I'm excited to play and it's another opportunity to get a win and show what I can do at this level."

The last time the Wings faced the Kings was at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 15, a 4-1 Kings victory.

"We did a poor job getting through the neutral zone last time we played them," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "So by not getting through the neutral zone, we didn't end up spending any time in their end at all. So we've got to use our strengths. We can be a fast team, we can be a quick team, we've got to have great puck support, we got to get pucks in behind, we got to get on top of them in the forecheck and spend as much time as we can. We got to use our quickness in the zone, skating, not allowing them to stall the play. If they stall the play lots, it's going to be hard on us because they've got big, skating, I think (assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler) called them skating refrigerators back there on D. We got to find a way to use our quickness and isolate guys and have good support. It'll be a great challenge but every night in this league is."

MARCHENKO, SPROUL IN: The Wings will also be adding some size to their defense in 6-foot-3 Alexey Marchenko and 6-foot-4 Ryan Sproul.

But that's not because of the Kings.

It's because the Wings lost both Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith after two periods against the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday night.

Kronwall collided with Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler and re-injured his right knee.

"It's a little sore right now," Smith said. "We're just going to wait until the swelling goes down, kind of take it from there. As of right now, I won't be in."

Smith had only returned the last four games after missing 12 with a sprained right knee.

"I think we did a good job of getting ready and taking precautions," Smith said. "It was five and a half weeks or whatever. I thought we did a good job but it's just unfortunate. Hopefully we can figure out what's going on and try and get back in."

Kronwall has missed 13 games this season due to chronic knee problems but suffered a lower-body injury against the Ducks.

Blashill said Kronwall and Smith would miss at least the Kings and San Jose Sharks games and then be reevaluated.

Defenseman Mike Green, out for the last six games because of an upper-body injury, took part in the optional morning skate but isn't expected to return until next Tuesday's game in Chicago at the earliest.

Sproul has been in and out of the lineup and hasn't played the last four games.

"The biggest thing with Sproully is, and I've said this before, is his mentality of playing assertive," Blashill said. "When he plays assertive, he's an excellent hockey player. He can't play afraid to make a mistake. It's just a matter of attacking the game. So be assertive, don't play afraid to make a mistake and attack the game."

Sproul has a good shot-first mentality and has shown value on the power play as well.

"That's something I want to bring tonight for sure, just shoot lots of pucks and we need to create chaos at the net and just hopefully get a good bounce and just tap one in," Sproul said.

LINEUP ADJUSTMENTS: Tomas Jurco, who played against the Ducks, said he is a healthy scratch for the Kings game.

Andreas Athanasiou, a healthy scratch against the Ducks, said he has been told he is back in against the Kings.

ZATKOFF STARTING: Detroit native Jeff Zatkoff was the first goaltender off the ice this morning, according to Kings beat writers, meaning he is likely to start against the Wings.

Zatkoff got the victory in that Dec. 15 game, allowing one goal on 18 shots.

The Kings have four other Michigan natives, all defensemen, in Alec Martinez (Rochester Hills), Matt Greene (Grand Ledge) and Kevin Gravel (Kingsford).

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