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Notes: Abdelkader, Helm skate with team but not ready to play

Both players hope to return against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 31

by Dana Wakiji and Art Regner @Dwakiji and @ArthurJRegner /

DETROIT -- Dominic Turgeon is back but Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm won't be until after the All-Star break.

Turgeon was recalled Wednesday and David Booth was sent to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins after he cleared waivers once again.

Abdelkader and Helm (lower-body injuries) both participated in the Red Wings' morning skate Thursday but neither is quite ready yet.

"I felt a lot better for sure," Helm said. "Had some good skates. Nothing definite but hoping (to return) pretty quickly after the break."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill had originally thought that Abdelkader might be ready for tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I feel pretty good," Abdelkader said. "It's been tough with the schedule obviously, getting practice with the team, this is the first time I've been able to skate with the guys and it's only a pre-game skate. But Helmer and I have been getting some good skates with (strength and conditioning coach) Mike Kadar and feeling good. Obviously the timing, going on another break now, isn't ideal for guys that are trying to come back from an injury but we'll take it, we'll get our rest, get healed up and hopefully be ready coming out of break."

Both players are hopeful that they can play on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at home against the San Jose Sharks.

Helm said he had plans over the break but would try to get a good workout in and Abdelkader said he planned to do the same while staying in town.

"Don't plan on really going anywhere," Abdelkader said. "Went down to Florida for the first break, which was nice, and I think we're going to stick around here. It's four days, it'll be nice to kind of hang around here and catch up. I'll be able to get a few workouts in and possibly skate. It's our option, I believe. I would like to get a skate if I can. We'll see."

One thing Abdelkader is happy about is that he no longer has to wear the full shield to protect his cheekbone. He ditched it after the bye.

"Yeah, finally," Abdelkader said. "It seems like it's been forever but I kind of got used to it so it wasn't as bad but it wasn't ideal, that's for sure."

TURGEON HARDLY GONE: Turgeon played in four games before being sent down to the minors when Luke Glendening returned from injury.

But the team obviously liked what they saw out of the young center and brought him right back.

"It surprised me a little bit," Turgeon said. "I got sent down the day before, then I got the call right after that to come back up so like I said, with my opportunity, I'm trying to make the most of it."

Two of Turgeon's first five games will have been against the Blackhawks as his debut was in Chicago on Jan. 14.

"It was exciting," Turgeon said. "You grow up watching these guys play throughout your whole life, it was a dream come true to play my first NHL game, especially in a building like that."

In his first game, Turgeon's elbow got in the way of a shot, but it turned out fine and he was able to return.

In his last game, Monday in New Jersey, he got banged up again and was sporting a bruised right eyelid.

"I just got hit in the boards last game and it split open," he said.

Other than the physical play, Turgeon said he found out a few things about playing at this level.

"I learned that the pace is definitely higher and definitely smarter players for sure," Turgeon said. "They're always in the right spot at the right time so it's been a good experience so far."

BLASHILL MISSING: There was something missing from the morning skate - Blashill.

Blashill flew to Colorado for the memorial service for Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director of USA Hockey and the general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team.

Johansson, 53, passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning at his home in Colorado Springs.

Blashill will fly back in time to coach tonight's game against the Blackhawks.

Abdelkader, like Jimmy Howard, Dylan Larkin and Danny DeKeyser, all knew Johannson from their experiences with Team USA.

"(I knew him) pretty well from world juniors, world championship and the World Cup," Abdelkader said. "Obviously tremendous guy, really unfortunate. You really feel for his family, I think his daughter (Ellie), I believe. He just bleeds USA. It's amazing the time and the passion and commitment he's put into USA Hockey and help build it to what it is today. Such a great guy, passionate guy. Been very fortunate to wear the USA jersey and I think he's someone that symbolizes USA Hockey and that's what you play for for sure."

GREEN LOOKING FORWARD TO ALL-STAR GAME: Defenseman Mike Green is heading to Florida for the All-Star break, specifically to Tampa, where he'll be Detroit's All-Star representative.

"It's going to be fun," Green said. "I'm just going down there and enjoy myself with my family and just take it all in."

Although Green's son, Axel, is young, Green expects him to enjoy the experience.

"He's almost two, he's starting to get it," Green said. "He enjoys being around the rink. We'll bring him down and have some fun."

As the end of January quickly approaches, there is starting to be more talk about the upcoming Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Green is in the final year of his three-year contract so there has been some speculation that the Wings may trade him if they're not close to a playoff position.

"A lot can go on and obviously there's a potential for it, but as of right now I'm focused on day-to-day here," Green said.

Green has a modified no-trade clause in his contract so there may be some teams he can say no to if the issue arises.

"I do love it here. This organization is great, they've been very good to me," Green said. "Like I said, I haven't read too much into it and I haven't thought too much about it until it presents itself."

TATAR'S MINDSET - SHOOT MORE: If there is one aspect to their game the Wings universally feel needs to improve, it's shooting the puck more.

Many times the Wings are guilty of making the extra pass, trying to create the picture-perfect goal instead of blasting the puck on net.

"When you overshoot a puck good things can happen, but it's not possible every time, it depends on how the game would go," Wings forward Tomas Tatar said. "When you're trying to be too cute, it will go away from you, so obviously, there is a recipe - more shots, more goals."

Five Wings have taken over 100 shots on goal this season.

Tatar is third on the Wings in shots with 111. Gustav Nyquist leads the Wings in shots with 119 and Dylan Larkin is second with 116.

Henrik Zetterberg and Anthony Mantha have each taken 104 shots.

Despite taking over 100 shots thus far, Tatar admits there have been times after a shift he berates himself for not shooting, but he has vowed to take more shots, beginning tonight.

"I am going to try and put it into my head tonight for sure," he said. "Like I said before, when something goes wrong you're trying to overthink it instead of simplifying the game and just overshoot it."

With the four-day All-Star break looming, the Wings will be on another extended hiatus in a relatively short period of time.

"Honestly, I wish I was still playing. These two breaks were too close to each other," Tatar said. "It kind of maybe throws you off. It is what it is, you can look for an excuse, but you just have to adjust and make sure you're ready when you get back.

"I don't know how many games we played in January. There were two almost five-day breaks, so it's a 10-day break from hockey in one month, it's kind of a lot. The first time on the ice after the break you feel like you weren't skating for about two weeks. That just how it is.

"So, we just have to follow the schedule. This is our last game today, we have to play then we have to be ready after the break."

Since the Wings have had so much time off this month already, Tatar was asked if he would skate on his own or with some teammates during the All-Star break.

"Most of the guys are leaving Michigan," he said. "First break I got to be honest, I was in Mexico, they didn't have ice there, so I just hit the gym and try and make an intense workout to get something going. I wasn't skating (laughs)."

DALEY SKATES: Defenseman Trevor Daley, who left last Saturday's game against Carolina with a lower-body injury, did some skating Thursday.

Daley joined his teammates as the morning skate was concluding.

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