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Notes: Ericsson looking forward to first game since February

Martin Frk will get an excellent opportunity this preseason, PA Parenteau as well

by Dana Wakiji and Art Regner @Dwakiji and @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT - It's probably the most anticipated exhibition game for Jonathan Ericsson since he was a rookie.

The veteran Red Wings defenseman will be playing in his first game since Feb. 9, when he suffered a broken wrist on a hit by Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom.

"It's been a long process," Ericsson said. "But I feel like it's feeling pretty good. I got cleared a week and a half ago, two weeks ago maybe."

Ericsson said he was very limited in what he could do, especially with that arm. Doctors didn't even want him on the ice.

"I didn't skate until August," Ericsson said. "I couldn't do anything with a stick anyways, so I stayed off and let the hip rest."

Ericsson also has a chronic hip ailment that he has been dealing with for the last few years.

The challenge was to stay in shape while letting the injury heal.

"It was tough to put a lot of load," Ericsson said. "That was the tough part. But I was working out early. I started basically in March and did what I could with the cast on. You gotta listen to the doctor, too, and be smart about it as well, so I didn't do too much."

It was not the season Ericsson wanted either personally or for the team.

"It's such a small little bone but it takes so much time to heal," Ericsson said. "It's frustrating just a small little thing like that could take so long. Frustrating obviously how the season went overall. Very disappointing but here we have a very new, fresh start so it's going to be fun."

Although last year was disappointing, Ericsson believes this year could be much better, especially playing in shiny new Little Caesars Arena.

"This new building, I think everyone is looking forward to it," Ericsson said. "You guys see everything and how nice it is. No excuses."

Experience also matters, particularly for those young players who have a year or two of experience under their belts now.

"I know there comes a lot of experience with just one year like that," Ericsson said. "I think that's gonna make a big difference, and obviously we pretty much have the same team as last year. There's not many additions or changes. I think we're obviously going to be better than last year.

"We gotta find that feeling where we know we can win every game, even when we're down a goal. Last year it was like you kind of knew in the third period that we were going to lose the lead. It always got back on us, so it was kind of in the back of your mind, though you're trying not to. When you have that feeling where you know you're gonna win, that's the feeling we need."

FOR FRK, OPPORTUNITY AWAITS: As long Andreas Athanasiou remains in a contract stalemate with the Wings, the door is wide open for at least one of Detroit's young forwards to compete for a roster spot.

One player the Wings' coaching staff is keeping a close eye on is forward Martin Frk.

Drafted by Detroit in the second round (49th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Frk has had an erratic career in the Wings organization.

Last October, the 6-foot-1, 194-pound right wing was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes and appeared in two games for them.

Less than a month later in November, the Hurricanes waived Frk and the Wings claimed him. Frk was back in Grand Rapids and put together his best season as a pro.

In 65 regular season games for the Griffins, Frk notched 27 goals and 23 assists for 50 points.

During Grand Rapids' run to the Calder Cup championship, Frk was dynamic. He had five goals and 10 assists in 16 playoff contests.

"I thought Marty Frk played very well in Boston (Tuesday), gave us energy on the forecheck and ultimately Marty will have to score at a high level," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "That's his best asset. It's obviously an important asset. I think Marty will have to outscore mistakes. "He's got to play good enough five on five that he can be probably top three line player, maybe fourth line, but he can't just be a power play guy and never play (even strength).

"He took a good step the other night. He's going to get a good chance Saturday night to show us again, and tonight (Thursday). So, every chance he suits up he's got to play great hockey. I've known Marty a long time. He works extremely hard, he wants to be a really good player, he's way better than he was when we first got him in GR. That's a compliment to him. Hopefully he can keep on that trajectory."

One aspect of Frk's game that is NHL caliber is his shot.

On Episode 26 of The Red and White Authority, Dan Cleary, former Wing and co-director of player development, said Frk's shot is the hardest he's ever seen. Cleary went as far to say if Frk's shot is on net it's a goal.

Red & White Authority podcast with Dan Cleary

"Dan Cleary was in the league for a long time, that's a heck of a statement. I believe it. I've never seen a shot harder," Blashill said. "Now Teemu Pulkkinen had a heck of a shot, too, and his might have been just as hard. I thought at the time, Teemu got it on net more.

"Frky's been working to get it on net more. I think it's one of those things that he's got to make sure he gets it on net. I know one thing, it would be hard to stand in front of the net as the screen guy when he's firing that thing.

"Our goalies don't love facing it in practice. It's an absolute, 100 percent weapon. Then what you've got to decide is can he utilize that weapon. Can the rest of his game match and put himself in position where he can utilize that weapon, I should say."

If Frk has shown anything during his Red Wings career it is a resiliency to overcome the disappointments he's experienced.

It may take him longer than anticipated to land in Detroit, but with a determined grit and a bomb of shot, he could finally be on his way.

PARENTEAU OUT: Forward PA Parenteau, with the Wings on a professional tryout, injured himself during the morning skate.

"I haven't heard what or how, I just know he's not coming with us and he's not playing tonight," Blashill said. "I didn't get the sense that it was real serious but I also don't know for sure."

Blashill said David Booth would take Parenteau's spot in the lineup in Chicago.

With Athanasiou still unsigned, the Wings could have another opening for a forward, which could end up being Parenteau depending on the severity of the injury.

"We had, between myself and the other coaches, real good contacts that had him and have coached him and all said good things about him," Blashill said. "They liked him as a person - one thing that's critically important to our organization is character. They had great things to say about his character. They all said they felt he was a guy who could potentially help you on the power play, so it'll be a good look to see how he does in training camp."

LIGHTEN UP, SVECHNIKOV: The Wings will give Evgeny Svechnikov plenty of opportunity this preseason to show what he can do.

Svechnikov played in Pittsburgh Wednesday and is making the trip to Chicago as well.

Against the Penguins, Svechnikov played 12:13, had three shots and finished minus-1.

"Svech and I had a conversation today and that conversation was just relax and play," Blashill said. "He wants it so bad right now that he's overthinking it a little bit. He's just got to relax and play like he did in the first game he came up. Svech just played OK last night, he knows that. He's got a lot better in him and hopefully he plays better tonight."

IN CHICAGO: The forward lines in Chicago are scheduled to be:

Ben Street-Riley Sheahan-Martin Frk

Svechnikov-Michael Rasmussen-Booth

Matt Lorito-Axel Holmstrom-Matthew Ford

Luke Esposito-Turner Elson-Luke Witkowski

The defense pairs are:

Ericsson-Nick Jensen

Dennis Cholowski-Filip Hronek

Libor Sulak-Mike Green

The extra players are forward Corey Elkins and defenseman Kevin Tansey.

Blashill said Petr Mrazek would start in goal with Jared Coreau as the backup. But how much Coreau will play, if at all, had not been decided.

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