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Notes: Nielsen challenged by facing former team

With back-to-back games, Mrazek will get a start

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

BROOKLYN -- It's going to be a challenging night for Frans Nielsen.

Not only will his line with Luke Glendening and Darren Helm be matched against the New York Islanders' high-scoring line of John Tavares, Anders Lee and Josh Bailey, Nielsen will be facing his former friends once again.

"It's always going to be (special). Still a lot of good friends on that team," Nielsen said after Saturday's practice. "Probably not as nervous as last year but there's still going to be some nerves and weird playing against them. So still going to take a couple years probably."

Nielsen spent the first 10 years of his career with the Islanders and visited with some of them Monday night after the Wings arrived in New York.

Nielsen has two assists in three games against his former team.

Tavares has 19 goals among 40 points, Bailey has nine goals among 40 points and Lee has 20 goals among 35 points.

"(Tavares is) a superstar for sure, and he's not under-appreciated in our room," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Monday. "Publicly, I can't really say because I don't read a whole bunch. I think he's definitely one of the best players. When you represent Team Canada and Team Canada has gone through a bit of international dominance, you're obviously an elite player. I've got tons of respect for him.

"I know Fransie, who would know him better than any of us, would have tons of respect for him. But there's other guys. I coached Anders Lee at the world championship, he's today's version of Tomas Holmstrom, he's one of the best net-front guys in the league by a country mile. (Mathew) Barzal has had a great start. They got a number of guys that are dangerous."

Lee, 27, is a solid 6-foot-3, 231-pound man, one of the biggest players the Islanders have.

"Our teams competed against Anders in the USHL when he was at Green Bay," Blashill said. "I thought he was a great player, a total winner. This doesn't surprise me at all with Anders Lee, not one bit. I gained an even greater appreciation for him at the world championship because he is one of the best winners I have ever been around, and boy, is he strong in front of the net, an unreal net presence. None of it surprises me. I've had a high amount of respect since his days at Green Bay."

Tavares has six goals among 19 points in 15 career games against the Wings; Lee has two goals and three assists in nine games against the Wings; Bailey has five goals and five assists in 15 games.

MRAZEK GETS A TURN: With the Wings playing back-to-back games tonight against the Islanders and Wednesday night in Philadelphia, it means Petr Mrazek will get a start in goal for the first time in a while.

Mrazek played in the third period Dec. 9 against the St. Louis Blues in relief of Jimmy Howard.

He also relieved Howard Dec. 2 in Montreal.

But Mrazek has not started a game since Nov. 25 against the New Jersey Devils, the second game of a back-to-back.

Mrazek had to leave that game to be checked for a concussion, for which he was cleared.

So the last time Mrazek played the entire game was Nov. 9 against the Calgary Flames, a 6-3 loss.

For his career, Mrazek is 5-3-0 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .903 save percentage against the Islanders.

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