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Notes: Daley to miss at least one game

Devils are much-improved team this season

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- The Red Wings will be back to a more traditional look tonight against the New Jersey Devils.

The team has been playing with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for a while but that is not possible as Trevor Daley will miss this game and perhaps more.

"You guys would have seen the hit so his neck kind of, his head kind of got pushed aside," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We'll see. We had an MRI done today just to make sure there's no issues there. But he's definitely out tonight. Whether it's longer than that, let's see how he recovers. Day to day."

Luke Witkowski, a defenseman/forward, cannot play as he still has six games to serve in his 10-game suspension.

So the Wings will go with the more traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen, which includes Nick Jensen, Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, Xavier Ouellet and Danny DeKeyser.

"It just kind of changes a little bit maybe our line approach based on trying to have like players playing together," Blashill said. "So we'll experiment a little bit tonight with some lines and see how they're going and make adjustment if we need to."

Martin Frk is still recovering from a groin injury and is not ready to play so David Booth will draw back into the lineup.

Booth has played in just five games this season. His last game was Nov. 15 against the Calgary Flames.

DEVILS NO PUSHOVER: The New Jersey Devils are perhaps the most improved team in the league this season.

They are currently second in the Metropolitan Division with a 13-5-4 record after finishing last in 2016-17 with a 28-40-14 record. They are 7-2-2 on the road.

"You'd have to ask (Devils coach) John Hynes (why)," Blashill said. "I think one, he's done a real good job of getting Taylor Hall to play at a real high level. Taylor's playing great, he's playing 200-foot hockey. We've talked about the maturation process of players. He's not a young player, per se, he's been in the league a long time, he's still probably a young player. I think their coaching staff has done a real good job of getting him to play that complete game. He's elite, he was the number one overall pick for a reason.

"They added some guys. Bratt's had a heck of a start here. A number of guys, (Marcus) Johansson's obviously hurt but it's a good addition. Between the addition and the fact that they've done a good job maximizing their guys, and Cory Schneider's playing really good."

Hall had a goal and two assists in Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks and leads the Devils with seven goals among 24 points.

Another fine addition is defenseman Will Butcher.

The rookie has two goals, 15 assists and is plus-6 in 22 games.

"I know he played at Denver, I know Jim Montgomery loved him, I know he won a national championship, I know he was a Hobey Baker winner but I didn't know him much as a player," Blashill said. "He reminds me a little bit of another player on their team, Andy Greene, who was a heck of a college player who was a little undersized and people questioned his skating a little bit and that size-skating combo. Next thing you know he's the captain of a real good hockey team. Will looks like the same kind of player, a little undersized, maybe not a pure skater, but all of a sudden comes into the National Hockey League and makes tons of plays. He looks like a guy who could be a real good player."

Blashill confirmed that Petr Mrazek would get the start for the Wings in the second game of a back-to-back.

Mrazek is 3-1-0 with one shutout, a 2.18 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in four career games against the Devils.

Blashill was asked if he wanted DeKeyser to shoot a lot against the Devils and he said, "Yes."

DeKeyser had two game-winning goals last season, both against New Jersey.

STARTING ON TIME NOT AN ISSUE: Over the past several years, the Red Wings have used the term 'starting on time' to lament their slow starts.

While Detroit has been guilty of beginning some games slowly this season, Blashill does not see it as an ongoing problem for the Wings.

"When I'm looking at this year, I don't think this year it has. I think we've come out and played pretty good," Blashill said. "I think sometimes when you sit up in the stands and you come out and you might be playing good, next thing you know you might be down 3-0 and you say, 'well, you didn't start on time.'

"We played a game in Toronto this year, I thought we started way better than them. Next thing you know, we're down 4-1 or 4-0 at the end of the first. I thought we came out and started on time."

Blashill indicated there isn't an elixir to ensure a team is ready to go from the opening face-off.

He believes a team must be consistent throughout the game.

"We have to make sure we're playing 60 minutes of great hockey to give ourselves a chance to win," he said.

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