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Marchenko feels more comfortable in role

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings defenseman Alexy Marchenko battles Boston's Brad Marchand for the puck earlier this month. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Alexy Marchenko’s skating won’t garner a lot of attention, not even from his own coach.

But that’s OK for Jeff Blashill who values other areas of Marchenko’s game.

“I think he’s a guy that you appreciate more from the bench than maybe you do from the press box,” the Wings’ head coach said of his 23-year-old defenseman. “He’s not flashy. He doesn’t skate great.”

Nobody will mistake Marchenko for an offensive-minded defenseman either. The goals he’s scored in the AHL and NHL combined can be counted on one hand and two fingers. But what makes him valuable to the Red Wings are his impeccable hockey instincts. His plus is his puck-moving competence and a penchant for killing penalties.

“He’s a big boy, he’s strong, he makes good outlet passes, he’s not afraid to take hits and I think that’s something that’s pretty cool about him,” said Brendan Smith, who will be paired with the Russian when the Red Wings host the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Marchenko has played in 12 straight games since he was recalled from AHL Grand Rapids to replace Kyle Quincey, who suffered a concussion on Oct. 23.

In that time, the Red Wings’ penalty kill has surrendered six goals on 38 chances. Marchenko was on the ice for one of those goals – scored by Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter on Oct. 24.

Through a dozen games, Marchenko is still looking for his first NHL point of the season. He has a minus-5 rating with 12 shot blocks – seven of them on the penalty kill.

Tonight, Marchenko will reach a personal high for consecutive NHL games-played. He played in 12 straight as a midseason call up for the Wings last January.

With Smith drawing back into the lineup after missing three straight games with an illness, someone was going to be a healthy scratch against the Kings.

Marchenko got a vote of confidence Friday from Blashill, who sided with the 6-foot-2 blue liner over Jakub Kindl.

“What I like about him is he wins tons of little puck battles, he’s extremely strong on his stick, he’s got a big body, so he’s willing to take a hit to make a play,” Blashill said. “He doesn’t pull up ever. He’ll take a hit tonight I’m sure to make a play.”

Marchenko began the season playing four games with the Griffins. With Quincey out 9-12 weeks following surgery last Saturday to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, Marchenko’s assimilation to the pace of the NHL game is imperative.

“The more and more games I play, the more I adjust to the pace to the game,” he said. “That’s kind of helped.”

Svechnikov

SVECHNIKOV SHINES: Red Wings prospect Evgeny Svechnikov scored two goals in the final game of the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

He was named the Russian player of the game Thursday.

The 19-year-old Svechnikov, who was Detroit’s first-round pick in last June’s NHL draft, is in his second QMJHL season with Cape Breton, where he is currently third in team scoring with 11 goals and 29 points in 19 games.

The young Russian forward played in two games of the six-game series that started in British Columbia on Nov. 9. He finished with two goals with a plus-1 rating on six shots on goal.

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