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Notes: Wings to face hot Sharks, who have won five straight

Glendening expected to be back; Hronek's status up in the air

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

SAN JOSE -- The Red Wings might be catching the San Jose Sharks at just the wrong time.

The Sharks have won their last five games and have outscored their opponents, 23-14.

"I watched the first period of the Edmonton game the other night," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "To me, it's typical Sharks hockey, they get the puck up to the top, they shoot pucks, they tip it, they get around the net and they're really good at it. It's hard to defend. I think Pete DeBoer is one of the best coaches in the league, I thought that for a long time. They always have a strong plan and they're always a real hard team to play against. They're good structurally defensively and they got a real good plan offensively.

"Obviously, you have two of the best offensive defensemen in the league with (Brent) Burns and (Erik) Karlsson. But like every night in this league, it's a tough match and you got to play great hockey to put yourself in position to win the hockey game. I've said this lots, we're more worried about ourselves than anybody else."

Burns is second on the team in points with 19 (5-14-19) in 20 games. Tomas Hertl, who is in the midst of a career-best five-game goal scoring streak, leads with 21 points (10-11-21).

"We try to put as much pressure on them as we can to play in their zone," Luke Glendening said. "But (Burns is) gonna get shots. You gotta be willing to block them, box out in front and just do the best you can. He leads the league in shots or is close to it every year it seems. You just do the best you can there."

Karlsson has 15 points (1-14-15) in 19 games.

Normally, Burns is the team's leader in shots but this season so far Evander Kane has 67 to Burns' 60.

Jimmy Howard will be making his first start since Nov. 6 in New York against the Rangers as Jonathan Bernier started the last four games.

"He's got to go in and make sure he does a good job of stopping pucks and make sure he's strong on his rebounds and plays the way he's capable of playing," Blashill said. "Howie's been a really good goalie in this league for a long time. I got full confidence he'll go in and do a real good job."

In 18 career games against the Sharks, Howard is 5-8-4 with a 2.79 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts.

GLENDENING READY: Glendening, out since blocking a shot Oct. 23 in Ottawa, is expected to get final clearance from the doctors and make his return to the lineup.

"It's been tough sitting out but the guys have been doing well lately," Glendening said. "It's good to get back and be a part of the group. I don't know that my presence affects the lineup. I'm excited to get back and be a part of it. It's hard to sit and watch. It's a great opportunity to get two points."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "I'm excited to get back and be a part of the group." Luke Glendening ready to return to game action. #DETvsSJS #LGRW

Since it was Glendening's hand that was injured, how he manages face-offs will be key.

"It's gonna be kind of a little bit of a process to see how it goes," Glendening said. "I'm gonna try my best and see what happens. I don't think anything will ever be pain-free but it's as good as it's gonna get and we'll see what it does."

The Wings will welcome back Glendening, one of their alternate captains and their top penalty killer.

Without Glendening and defenseman Danny DeKeyser, out since Oct. 23 with a lower-body injury, the Wings have fallen to 31st in the league on the penalty kill at 70.8 percent.

"I think we were battling it. We did go through a tough stretch," Glendening said. "It wasn't pretty when I was in it either. I think in the last couple of games it's started to get back on track. Some goals have gone in but it's been looking better and better. We just gotta stick with it. It's not always gonna go perfect but believe in the systems, believe in the guys who are out there with you."

In addition to his penalty killing, Glendening brings a lot of other elements to the table.

"Glenny is a winning hockey player, a big-time winning hockey player, wins puck battles," Blashill said. "The game comes down lots of times to just winning pucks battles all over the ice and he does that as good as anybody, really probably anybody in the league. He's big-time accountable as a two-way player.

"Does tons of things defensively, not just in his own job but a lot of times can be an eraser and make up for other people's mistakes. He's done a good job of that throughout his career. He also brings you offense through his forecheck, through his net presence, through his ability to win face-offs. Certainly he's a big piece of our team and provided that he'll be back tonight, it'll be a good plus for us."

HRONEK'S STATUS: Defenseman Filip Hronek, who missed Thursday's game in Los Angeles with a lower-body injury suffered Tuesday in Anaheim, was one of the few who took part in the optional morning skate at SAP Center.

Hronek said afterward that he wasn't sure if he would play against the Sharks.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: 🏒🏒🏒 #SJSvsDET

MAGNIFICENT MARLEAU: It was only fitting for Patrick Marleau to return to the Sharks, the team that originally drafted him second overall in the 1997 draft.

Marleau, 40, spent the last two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs but returned to San Jose as a free agent on Oct. 9.

Marleau, who has played in an incredible 804 consecutive games dating back to April 9, 2009, will play in his 75th career game just against the Wings tonight.

"He's had an unbelievable career," Glendening said. "To play as many games as he has is just so impressive. For anyone in the league to look up to a guy who has played as many games as he has, there's not a lot of words that can express how impressive it is, what he's done."

Tonight will be Marleau's 1,674th NHL game.

To put it in perspective, Marleau's 74 games against Detroit is more than the number of NHL games of Detroit's Joe Hicketts (20), Hronek (66), Dylan McIlrath (55), Dennis Cholowski (70) and Taro Hirose (27).

Christoffer Ehn has played in exactly 74 NHL games.

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