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Miller is thrilled to be in Wings' mix

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – A Michigan State reunion will take place tonight when Red Wings’ newcomer Drew Miller skates on a line with his former Spartans teammate Justin Abdelkader against the Vancouver Canucks at Joe Louis Arena.

“He gets an opportunity to get in right away, which is good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Miller, whom the Wings picked up off of waivers from Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Miller, 25, played in 14 games this season for the Lightning, where he was scoreless with a minus-3 rating.

“It’s definitely a great feeling to be picked up off waivers by my hometown team,” Miller said. “I just want to make my mark right away and show them that I deserve to be here to stay.”

Mounting injuries have forced the Wings to fill offensive voids created by the long-tem absences of Johan Franzen (ACL), Valtteri Filppula (wrist) and Jason Williams (leg).

“We’re excited to have him here,” Babcock said. “For him to have success here, he’s going to have to be real good without the puck, he has to be physical on the forecheck, really skate and be a good penalty-killer.”

With forward Kirk Maltby (flu) for of Thursday’s lineup, Babcock indicated that Miller will skate on the fourth line tonight with Abdelkader and Brad May, who was Miller’s teammate in Anaheim the last two seasons.

“I played with Justin in college and I know him pretty well,” said Miller, who scored 39 goals with 47 assists in 125 collegiate games. “He’s having a good year so far, and it’s nice to come to a team where you know some guys from your past. It makes the transition a little bit better when you know some of the guys on the team.”

Miller said he was a little surprised that the Lightning chose to place him on waivers, but ending up in Detroit with many familiar faces around is a bonus.

Miller becomes the second in his family to play for the Red Wings. His cousin, Kevin Miller, a former 13-year NHL veteran, played in Detroit for three seasons. He scored 25 goals with 30 assists in 95 Wings' games. Drew Miller is also the younger brother of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
“My cousin Kevin played here, I played here in college, I’ve watched my brother play here, I’ve watched a lot of pro games here too,” Miller said. “It’s a building that I know pretty well and hopefully it will treat me well as a Red Wing.”

NOTEBOOK: Besides Maltby, goalie Chris Osgood is also out of Thursday’s game with the flu. Jimmy Howard, who stopped 21 shots in Wednesday’s 9-1 win at Columbus, will start back-to-back games on consecutive days for the first time in his NHL career. … The Wings recalled Daniel Larsson from Grand Rapids in a back-up role for Thursday.

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