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Jurco is doubtful for Saturday

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Kyle Quincey has been practicing fully and is close to returning, although coach Jeff Blashill said he would not play Saturday. (Photo by Getty Images)

TAYLOR, Mich. -- The good news is Tomas Jurco skated in practice Friday.

The bad news is he did not participate in all the drills, putting his status for Saturday's game in Buffalo in question.

"He didn’t go full full so I doubt it," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

Jurco, 23, left Thursday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return.

Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen, who is recovering from a dislocated right shoulder, skated together and did some work with assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler.

The Wings have not recalled any players from Grand Rapids and the Griffins are in Manitoba Sunday and Tuesday.

THREE-GAME SKID: With Thursday's 5-2 setback to the Penguins, the Wings have lost three in a row.

With the parity in the NHL these days, even short losing streaks can quickly put teams out of playoff position.

"It's tight, it's tight throughout all the divisions," defenseman Mike Green said. "We've done a good job at the start of the season to get our points and whatnot, but you can't lose, I think in this league back-to-back. It just makes it that much more difficult if other teams make up space or catch up to you."

The Florida Panthers have won seven straight and have taken over the Atlantic Division lead with 46 points.

The Montreal Canadiens, playing in the Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins, are second with 45 points and the Bruins are third with 44.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators are just one point behind the Wings with 42 points.

"One, we have to do a better job on our specialty teams, we talked about that last night," Blashill said. "Two, we’ve got to manage the puck better. And three, we have to raise the intensity level. Those are the three things we’re focused on and we’ll have to do a better job of it tomorrow."

Blashill said they addressed those items both in practice and in meetings.

"We all have to be stronger on our sticks and really just every shift, every battle we have to be stronger," Niklas Kronwall said. "We’ve been losing too many of the 50-50 battles. We’re not taking care of the puck enough, losing the puck in the wrong areas. Every team can score. If you give them enough chances they’re going to score."

POWER PLAY UP AND DOWN: The Wings' power play has looked good at times, less so at others, often in the same game.

Currently, the Wings are ranked 20th in the NHL at 17.7 percent.

"We have to find a way to be better just on average," Kronwall said. "Have a higher lower average, so to speak, so that we always are dangerous. Entering the zone in whatever way we have to make sure the puck gets delivered to the net I think a little more than it is right now. The rest of us will know the puck is getting there and we’ll get some dirty ones."

Green agreed that power-play goals usually come when they get more traffic to the net.

"I know that around the net, (Justin Abdelkader's) done a good job of getting rebounds and whatnot," Green said. "But I think we need more of that. I think they're not coming easy right now so just throwing more pucks at the net and getting those second chances."

Blashill put Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same power-play unit the last couple of games but isn't sure it will stay that way.

GETTING CLOSE: Drew Miller, out since Dec. 3 with a broken jaw, has been practicing fully wearing a full cage.

Kyle Quincey, who had surgery on his right ankle Nov. 14, has also been practicing fully.

"I think guys are close," Blashill said. "Quincey’s getting closer, Millsie’s getting closer, but not tomorrow. I don’t know about Monday yet."

STARTING GOALIE: Blashill said that Petr Mrazek would start Saturday afternoon's game in Buffalo.

ON THE FARM: The Griffins rang in the New Year with their 11th consecutive home win, a new franchise record, shutting out the Milwaukee Admirals 3-0.

The previous record of 10 straight home wins had occurred twice before, most recently Jan. 23-Feb. 27, 2004.

The 11-game home win streak is tied for the AHL's fifth-longest streak since the 2007-08 season.

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