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Pulkkinen prepared

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith missed practice Saturday but will play Saturday night in Toronto. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT -- Teemu Pulkkinen is ready to return.

Pulkkinen, who has missed the last four preseason games because of a rib injury, is back in the lineup for tonight's final preseason game in Toronto.

In Pulkkinen's last game, Sept. 24 against Pittsburgh, he had two goals and three assists.

That was the game in which he suffered the injury.

"I don’t really know what happened," Pulkkinen said. "After the game my rib is not good but everything is good now.”

Pulkkinen's three preseason goals are tied for second on the team with Justin Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, Drew Miller and Andreas Athanasiou.

Tomas Tatar leads the team with four goals.

If the new Wings coach did not know Pulkkinen, only getting three preseason games might be a problem.

But Jeff Blashill is familiar with Pulkkinen's work so that history and Pulkkinen's good preseason should help him.

“I was feeling good the whole time," Pulkkinen said. "It was nice to be here and I feel confident. It was all good and nothing changed. I feel the same right now and I’m ready to go."

LARKIN'S FUTURE

One way or the other, Dylan Larkin will be moving out of the hotel this week.

Whether he's moving to a place in metro Detroit or metro Grand Rapids remains to be seen.

"I think you look at a player like Dylan in two different situations – one, does he help our team, does he make our team better," Blashill said. "That’s the No. 1 thing we’d have to determine, whether he makes our team better than somebody else. And then two, what’s best for his development as well. Certainly where he would fit into the lineup would play into that decision. I don’t want to specifically say it would have to be a top three line but that’s definitely part of the conversation (general manager) Ken Holland and I will have after tonight’s game."

In five preseason games, Larkin had three goals and one assist and was plus-3.

Although he's far from a finished product, Larkin knows where he wants to go.

"I wanted to be the best player in the world since I was a little kid," Larkin said. "I played against (Patrick) Kane, (Jonathan)Toews, (Sidney) Crosby, (Patrice) Bergeron and I think I can be right there. I know it's just preseason but with how competitive those guys are and how they were playing, I think in my career, that's the kind of player I want to be."

Larkin, 19, said if he does end up in Grand Rapids, it won't change his attitude.

"I'm not going to pout about it or let it define my season," Larkin said. "I think I'd look at it as an opportunity, go down there and play with pretty much guys my age and guys that are in the same position I am that are working to be in the NHL. I think we have a great team that made it far last year and I know we'd start out on a road trip and I think it would be a lot of fun to play there."

Larkin has done his part and now it's up to Blashill, Holland and the coaching staff.

"I know Ken’s real committed, if a guy deserves to be here he’s going to be here," Blashill said. "Dylan’s done a good job for himself, he’s had a good camp and now it’s our job to decide who are our best 14 forwards to start come Tuesday when we go to cut down."

SMITH IS FINE; OTHER DEFENSEMEN STILL MENDING; HELM STILL A MAYBE

Brendan Smith missed Saturday's morning skate before the team left for Toronto, but there's no cause for alarm.

Blashill said Smith missed the practice for personal reasons but would play in Toronto.

Jakub Kindl remains out with an illness and Alexey Marchenko is out with an undisclosed injury.

"We hope he’ll be in a position to practice on Monday," Blashill said of Marchenko.

Darren Helm skated before the two Saturday practices and could still play in the regular-season opener Oct. 9 against Toronto.

"We hope to get him in the first part of practice on Monday and then we hope he can go full on Wednesday but we’ll take that day by day," Blashill said. "I wouldn’t throw him in a game without having a couple full days of practice. Our goal would be that he can practice full Wednesday and Thursday and be ready for opening day."

NEW GUYS HAVE MADE GOOD IMPRESSIONS

Brad Richards and Mike Green are veterans but it's still an adjustment coming to a new team.

Both have performed the way Blashill had hoped.

"What I’ve learned the most is they look to be winners in terms of the types of people they are and the approach they take," Blashill said. "They both want to get better, they both are receptive to coaching. They both have worked extremely hard. The empty-net goal Richards had (Friday) night is indicative of why he’ll be successful – he didn’t just score an empty-net goal, he angled and stopped on the puck and created the turnover, won the battle and then scored the goal. That’s the things it takes to be successful at any level and that’s why he’s been a good pro."

WAIVERS

TSN's Bob McKenzie said that the Wings placed two players on waivers Saturday, forwards Louis-Marc Aubry and Eric Tangradi.

NHL rosters must be set by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

TONIGHT'S LINEUP

Here are the Wings who are playing tonight in Toronto in the final exhibition game:

Forwards:

Anthony Mantha-Tomas Nosek-Luke Glendening

Teemu Pulkkinen-Andy Miele-Tomas Jurco

Mitch Callahan-Andreas Athanasiou-Tyler Bertuzzi

Landon Ferraro-Joakim Andersson-Dan Cleary

Defensemen:

Brendan Smith-Kyle Quincey

Brian Lashoff-Nick Jensen

Xavier Ouellet-Ryan Sproul

Goaltenders:

Petr Mrazek (will start, play entire game)

Jake Paterson

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