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Kindl hopes to give lift to the Wings

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – With only five healthy defensemen available for Thursday’s home game, the Red Wings called-up rookie Jakub Kindl from Grand Rapids.

Kindl, 22, will make his NHL debut against the Edmonton Oilers.

“Kindl’s a real good player, he moves the puck really well, we think he can bring us that,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll play on our first power play tonight, because he has that kind of ability.”

Kindl’s call-up was necessary after veteran defenseman Brian Rafalski left Wednesday’s practice early with a sore back. Rafalski is the latest Red Wing assigned to the team’s infirmary joining defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Andreas Lilja, and forwards Johan Franzen, Jason Williams, Valtteri Filppula and Patrick Eaves.

According to Babcock, Rafalski’s injury is day-to-day.

“He had some back stiffness yesterday,” Babcock said, “and we just felt with his history it wasn’t worth pushing it today.”

Kindl, who represented the Griffins in the 2009 AHL All-Star Game, has a goal and 11 points in nine games this season in Grand Rapids. He’s collected six points in the last five games, including three assists in a 6-3 win at Toronto last month.

“First NHL game and I don’t know what to say anymore,” said Kindl, a native of the Czech Republic. “It’s really exciting. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity and really looking forward to it.”

“It’s been a crazy two days,” Kindl said. “Last night I got into town and I couldn’t fall asleep, and I was rolling around in bed just thinking about the game coming up. I had a good skate this morning and I feel a lot better.

“This is my opportunity, finally and I’m really going to enjoy it.”

After Thursday’s morning skate, Babcock wasn’t certain about the defensive rotation and pairings.

“I don’t know, how about that for an answer?” Babcock quipped. “We’ll think about it a little bit more, and we’ll see how the game’s going and the kind of rhythm we get in. Obviously we’ve had a number of changes in the back end there, and the bottom line, our forwards have to do a good job of protecting our D.”

NOTEBOOK: Eaves did skate Thursday morning, but he remains day-to-day with an ankle injury that he sustained against the Dallas Stars on Monday at JLA.
“I caught a rut,” Eaves said. “Seems pretty harmless, but it didn’t feel very good at the time.”

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