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Jurco returns

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Defenseman Jakub Kindl is expected to play Sunday after missing the last four games as a healthy scratch. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- Perhaps Tomas Jurco just needed to get a little bit of confidence.

The Red Wings recalled Jurco from his conditioning stint with the Grand Rapids (AHL) Griffins Saturday and coach Jeff Blashill said he expects to play Jurco Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

With the Griffins, Jurco had five goals and four assists in five games and was named AHL Player of the Week Nov. 23 after scoring seven points in his first three games.

"He went down and did what we asked him to do," Blashill said. "He went down and was great from all accounts. We wanted him to gain some confidence. We think obviously playing the way he’s played down there, he should come back with lots of confidence."

Jurco, 22, had just one assist in four games with the Wings and had not played since Oct. 30 against Ottawa.

"He’s got to play the right way," Blashill said. "He’s got to skate, be in on the forecheck, and be a big body in front of the net. He’s got to have confidence and poise and make plays and ultimately shoot the puck in the net the way I’ve seen him shoot in the net and the way he’s done it in Grand Rapids. I know he can score at this level if he gets the opportunities. He’s got to go get those opportunities."

Jurco has averaged 1.108 points per game in his last 37 AHL games.

"I think it’s important to remember how young he is," Blashill said. "He’s done things in that league at a young age that not many guys do. His points per game in his second year, his points per game since he went back down, were really really good. Now he’s got to transfer that to the NHL."

Blashill said he would decide Sunday which forward would sit out with Jurco returning.

If Blashill wants to keep Jurco in a top-9 forward role, he might opt to sit Teemu Pulkkinen, who has been playing with Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Richards.

"Pulkki’s done a pretty good job," Blashill said. "He still has to get better in lots of areas. We talked about maturation. That’s maturation as an individual, maturing as a player. He still has to evolve in terms of his play. We think there’s still more there, both in the line and from him. But we’ll continue to work on that."

KINDL BACK IN: Also returning to the lineup is defenseman Jakub Kindl.

Kindl has missed the last four games as a healthy scratch.

“It’s nothing new for me. I’ve been in this position," Kindl said. "I’m going to try to play exactly the way I did before I wasn’t playing, so I’m not going to change anything."

Blashill said Kindl hadn't done something wrong to be scratched.

"Kindl’s actually done a good job," Blashill said. "I think we have seven D that are good. So whoever we take out it’s not because they’ve played bad. It’s because you can’t play seven. We’ll make the final decision who comes out tomorrow. Right now we’re definitely going to get Kindl back in. That’s something we’ve been working towards here in the last week. We wanted to make sure he got some penalty kill time under his belt so that if he did go back in he was real confident in his ability to kill."

Kindl has two goals and three assists in 17 games and is plus-3.

Kindl has offensive ability, which the Wings definitely need from the blue line.

"I feel comfortable," Kindl said. "All our D is trying to be more involved offensively, so that’s why I’m going to do exactly what I did before two weeks ago."

Kindl hasn't languished too long on the bench.

"Especially last week there’s been a lot of games, every other day, Kindl said. "Train keeps going faster and faster. Good thing it hasn’t been longer than it was."

Blashill said he expects Kindl and all the defensemen to make more positive plays than negative ones in order to remain in the lineup.

"It’s a hard league to make sure you stay in every night," Blashill said. "Everybody’s going to make mistakes. You limit your mistakes and you make positive plays. How can he make positive plays? Be great on the breakout, great in neutral zone transition. Being active in the O-zone. Shooting the puck in the net with his slapper. All those things are things he can do positively and then eliminate turnovers and eliminate defensive breakdowns."

TATAR-SHEAHAN-NYQUIST CLICKING: Both Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist scored Friday night and they are tied for second on the team with eight goals each.

Rookie Dylan Larkin leads with nine.

The two, along with center Riley Sheahan, appear to have hit their stride of late.

"You’ve got three guys that can all make little plays in the offensive zone," Blashill said. "They all can shoot the puck well. They’re different in how they score but they all have the ability to. I just think it’s a matchup problem when that line is playing as well as they’ve played and the other two lines are playing as well as they’ve played because it’s hard to have three lines that can match against those guys. So it’s been a real positive for us."

Although the three have played together before, both in Grand Rapids and Detroit, it took a little while to get going.

Now that they have gotten going, Nyquist expects even more.

"I still think we've left some chances unfinished out there," Nyquist said. "I think we could have scored more. We've had lots of chances that we haven't buried but (Friday) it was nice to get two and I think we complement each other pretty well so it's a fun line to play on."

Nyquist said he and Tatar are working toward becoming stronger defensively, as Sheahan already is.

"I think most of our forwards are good two-way forwards, but obviously Sheahan, I just don't think he gets enough credit for what he does," Nyquist said. "He's got a big body, he's the net presence most of the time, he wins face-offs, he's strong in our own zone, carrying the puck out of the zone, making good plays. He's an important piece on our line."

IN GOAL: Blashill said Petr Mrazek would play Sunday against Florida.

Mrazek is 6-4-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

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