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Notes: Sproul gets another chance with Kronwall out

Wings face Lightning for second time this season

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - With Niklas Kronwall getting a break, Ryan Sproul will get another opportunity.

Kronwall played in five straight games and is now getting time to maintain his ailing knees with a lighter game schedule this week.

Sproul, 23, played in five games from Oct. 21-Oct. 29, recording two assists.

"I want to see our power play be more dynamic, I want to see lots of shots, I want to see him breaking the puck out, jumping up in the play, being dynamic offensively and being assertive defensively," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "When he's assertive defensively, meaning closing gaps with his feet, skating forwards most of the night, not backwards. When he does those things he's a real good player."

Sproul has been practicing but hasn't played the last seven games.

"I think it's just a little bit of rust," Sproul said. "I need to make sure I come back in and play my game and keep it simple, do little things that will make the game easier for me."

Brendan Smith, Sproul's defense partner, will try to help him ease back into the game.

"I think just to play real simple. A lot of talk," Smith said. "I think that's one thing I got to do the best is talk to him and make sure he knows plays to make quickly. Anytime anybody talks, you have more of a feel for the ice. A lot of times you don't know what's coming behind you. If your partner is talking or people on the ice, you have more of an idea."

Sproul will also take Kronwall's spot on the power play alongside Mike Green, a player Sproul has long admired.

"It's amazing," Sproul said. "I've been watching him since I've been out so I'm seeing things that he does on the power play so I just get the puck to him and let him score."

BERTUZZI SENT BACK TO GR: The Wings assigned Tyler Bertuzzi to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins today.

Bertuzzi got a taste of the NHL, playing in three games and recording five hits and two shots on goal while averaging 9:57 average time on ice.

The Wings selected Bertuzzi, 21, in the second round, 58th overall, in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

"He came in and had a great call-up," Blashill said. "He was in three games. I think he got better as a hockey player in those three games. It gives him a chance to look at it and say, 'What do I need to do to make sure when I come back up I'm going to stay?'

"It also gives him a chance to go down and take the confidence he has from playing real good here and take the next step as a player in that league and become an elite player. He can follow a path similar to what he followed in the OHL. He was a good player and then a great player. He was a good player in the American League and now he can go down and be a great player."

Bertuzzi had two goals and two assists in nine games with the Griffins before being called up.

Drew Miller will draw back into the lineup.

"It's never easy to be out," Miller said. "You get that extra motivation to get back in and be ready to go."

HELLO, LIGHTNING: The Wings are very familiar with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They are in the same division and the Lightning have eliminated the Wings from the playoffs the last two seasons.

"We've played each other in so many valuable games, so it speak, when it matters a lot, and then the intensity ramps up," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "There's more emotion involved in the game so obviously that makes some impact on the rivalry between the teams. I think so. We've played each other a lot the past few years and it's obviously a game we like to play and it's fun to play. And they are also a very good team."

The Wings opened the season in Tampa with a 6-4 loss.

"They have a really fast team with young guys who are playing really well," Tomas Tatar said. "They really live with the system, too and it seems like they are clicking well. They have a good group of guys."

The Lightning are coming off a 4-0 road shutout of the New York Islanders Monday night.

The Wings have not fared well against teams playing the second of back-to-back games recently, losing to both the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.

Blashill outlined what the Wings have to do to change that.

"Play great from the drop of the puck to the end of the game," Blashill said. "That's all you can control. I have no idea what time they got in, what their rest was. But what I know we can control is our play. If we play great and we're relentless for 60 minutes we give ourselves the best chance to win. The NHL schedule is such that it goes both ways, sometimes you're rested and sometimes they're rested. We don't use it as an excuse, they won't use it as an excuse, so we're going to have to play great hockey to win tonight."

BOB IS BACK: Radio play-by-play announcer Ken Kal will miss tonight's game against the Lightning as he has not yet regained his voice.

Griffins play-by-play announcer Bob Kaser will fill in once again for Kal, who has missed the two previous games.


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