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Notes: Green named NHL third star; Ericsson's start

Justin Abdelkader does not practice but still might play Tuesday against Carolina

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Red Wings defenseman Mike Green had a very good week last week and the NHL recognized that.

Green, 31, was named the league's third star after scoring his first career hat trick in the home opener against the Ottawa Senators and collecting two more assists as the Wings went 4-0-0.

Green is tied with Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek for the team lead in scoring with seven points.

He is also tied for second in the league in defense scoring with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson. San Jose's Brent Burns is first with nine points.

It took Green 14 games last season to get seven points.

Green's comfort level in his second season in Detroit appears to be much higher.

"I think sometimes we look at these guys as players, but they're people and when you move from one organization to a new organization it's an adjustment when you've been with one for a long time," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's an adjustment socially, an adjustment with your family, an adjustment in so many areas, an adjustment to how people coach and the culture. I think he's much more comfortable. From a coaching staff we know him better too and that allows us to utilize him better. He's been really, really good. He's using his assets, his assets is his skating and he's got a great attack mentality and he's using his feet both offensively and defensively. I think that's great."

Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot and Chicago forward Artem Anisimov were first and second star, respectively.

ERICSSON EXCELLING: Although Jonathan Ericsson tied his career high in points last season with 15, he was not at all happy with the way he played, especially toward the end of the year.

This season Ericsson has earned his coach's praise for his steady, physical play.

"I think he's been really, really good," Blashill said. "He's done a real good job taking the extra second when needed to make sure he's making the right decision with the puck. When you're a big man, you have a little more time than you think, even if you're under pressure you can hold guys off with your body. He's done a real good job holding guys off with his body and taking that extra second to make the right decision with the puck. He's been physical from a fighting standpoint and physical from just a playing standpoint, he's won lots of battles."

Against the San Jose Sharks Saturday night, Ericsson was able to exit the zone with the puck and push it forward to Gustav Nyquist, who then scored a goal-scorer's goal in the top right corner.

"Obviously when everyone moves better and more with the puck or without the puck, you're going to create more time for yourself and easier plays," Ericsson said. "But it's easier said than done. It's something that I'm trying to work on to move my feet more and not be standing still making passes. That's something we talked about too and something we all want to do as a defense."

Ericsson has two assists in his first six games and is averaging 17:04 ice time, less time than he has averaged in the previous four seasons.

Ericsson, 32, has a chronic hip issue that he addressed with a lot of work this past offseason.

"I improved a lot over the offseason with that so mobility-wise and strength-wise, just trying to prepare myself," Ericsson said. "It is what it is. It's always going to be there but it's not a big issue."

Regardless, Ericsson is determined to have a better season this time.

"I know I didn't finish the season the way I wanted to," Ericsson said. "But obviously I did what I could in the offseason to prepare myself. Obviously I felt like revenge kind of coming back and proving that I could still play and be a lot better player than I left last season. I think a lot of guys felt the same way. We want to go way further in the playoffs. We've been shut down here early on for a few years and it's not fun."

INJURY UPDATES: Blashill said Justin Abdelkader, who missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury, remains day-to-day.

Although Abdelkader did not practice Monday, Blashill said he's not ruled out for Tuesday's game against Carolina.

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has chronic knee problems, did not practice Monday.

"He's on a plan where he's a couple days on and a day off kind of approach," Blashill said. "Today he skated with (strength and conditioning coach) Mike Kadar, who kind of bridges the gap between the athletic trainers to when they can skate with us as a team. Obviously Kronner has done some stuff with us as a team and he'll keep doing that. He's got to come where he can go full with us three days in a row before he's going to have an opportunity to play."

Tomas Jurco, who underwent back surgery in the offseason, has started skating on his own but Blashill said he would not be ready to play until at least the second week of November.

BIG WEEK FOR SMITH: Givani Smith, the Wings' second-round pick, 46th overall, in this past summer's NHL Entry Draft, had a big week last week.

On Monday Smith signed a three-year entry-level contract. 

Smith then celebrated by scoring six points (three goals, three assists) in three games with the Guelph Storm, who named him their player of the week.

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