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Fresh start

Teemu Pulkkinen is nearly recovered after shoulder surgery, bidding to make Wings roster

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT - Teemu Pulkkinen is looking for a fresh start as this year's training camp begins.

Pulkkinen underwent left shoulder surgery on June 6, the second time he has had surgery on that shoulder. He also had a procedure on his left shoulder in 2010.

"Last season I didn't feel so good with the shoulder," Pulkkinen said after the Wings skated at Joe Louis Arena Tuesday. "And at the end of the season I didn't play much, so I didn't know where we were are with the shoulder. After the season I went to the world championships and it was bothering me there. So we decided to make surgery to make it better."

Pulkkinen said it was not a season-long problem.

"It started bothering me in the world championship," he said. "That was the most it was bothering me in the whole year, in the end of the season when I was playing with the (Finnish) national team. With the Wings, it didn't bother me so much."

Pulkkinen has been skating with his teammates and lifting weights but said he'll be ready to ramp things up for training camp, which starts Friday.

"I'm feeling good, feeling pretty good," Pulkkinen said. "I'm going to get full contact in Traverse City on Friday, so I'm hoping to maybe play one or two exhibition games but we'll see how it feels."

According to Pulkkinen, the original estimate for recovery was four to six months, so he's right on schedule, which is encouraging for the team.

"He's taking steps in the right direction," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We hope to get him into an exhibition game. I think that would help him and help us and make our evaluations as we move through camp."

Pulkkinen, 24, had a challenging season last year, playing in just 36 games and scoring six goals and six assists.

Pulkkinen also suffered a dislocated right shoulder on a hit from Arizona's Martin Hanzal Dec. 3, forcing him to miss six weeks.

"For sure it's tough when you don't play," Pulkkinen said. "After the injury, the first couple of months when I wasn't playing it was tough. It's hard to say but you kind of get used to it when you don't play. It's not nice but it's another season. I'm going to do my best and we'll see what's going to happen."

Pulkkinen does have a tremendous shot and scoring ability, which he demonstrated with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2014-15 season, scoring 34 goals and 27 assists in 46 games.

Although Pulkkinen has some tough competition among the young forwards as players like Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha will also be battling for a roster spot, he isn't trying to put too much pressure on himself.

"You know, just play hockey," Pulkkinen said. "I've been working out good. I'm in a good shape. Now I need a big camp in Traverse City and the next couple of weeks to get in good shape with my skating and everything. We'll see how it goes. I don't want to think about who's playing and what spots are open. I'm just going to do my best."

Pulkkinen doesn't expect to be perfectly sharp the first game out but he hopes to quickly get up to speed.

"We had to do the surgery and we know it's going to maybe take some games from me," Pulkkinen said. "Right now I feel good and like I said I'm hoping to play maybe one or two games.

"Maybe I can show something when I get out there."

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