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Notes: Pulkkinen practices; Mark Howe gets award

Final preseason game Saturday will look more like regular lineup

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Teemu Pulkkinen could have easily taken the day off.

Pulkkinen, who underwent left shoulder surgery on June 6, played in back-to-back preseason games in Chicago and Pittsburgh Tuesday and Wednesday, yet still came to the team's optional practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

"Shoulder is good," Pulkkinen said after practice. "It was a lot of fun to play in Chicago and then I wasn't sure if I was playing in Pittsburgh but the shoulder was good after the Chicago game so it was good to get back-to-back. It was a lot of fun."

Because of the surgery, Pulkkinen was off the ice until a short time ago.

"I was skating one week in Finland and now a couple weeks here and training camp," Pulkkinen said. I haven't skated a lot this summer so all the practices and all the games are important.

Pulkkinen, 24, played in just 36 games last season, partly because of an injury to his right shoulder and partly as a healthy scratch.

With players like Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha making a push for a roster spot, Pulkkinen knows he has to show what he can do.

Before training camp, Pulkkinen hoped to play in the preseason. Now he's played in two games with two left to go.

"I'm happy about my shoulder," Pulkkinen said. I didn't know how the shoulder was going to feel in the games. I played back-to-back and the shoulder is fine today so I'm happy about that."

Pulkkinen proved himself at the AHL level, scoring 34 goals and 27 assists in 46 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2014-15.

Pulkkinen had two shots and a hit in Pittsburgh after just one shot the night before in Chicago.

"It was two hard games." Pulkkinen said. "Chicago played good, but I think we played a little bit better in Pittsburgh. Overall I think OK. It's never easy to come back after surgery. My game is not right there and my skating is not there. I just need more practice and more games and we should be good."

LOOKING AHEAD: The Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton Friday and then host the Leafs at Joe Louis Arena Saturday.

"We're going to give an opportunity to some different guys on Friday and then on Saturday we're to have - I don't want to say our compete team, because it's not, we'll be missing a full line of (Steve_ Ott, (Luke) Glendening, (Drew) Miller - but for the most part it'll be really close to our opening night team," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "So we want to take a step forward as group and we haven't had lots of time to gel."

Blashill said Jimmy Howard would play Friday in Hamilton and Petr Mrazek Saturday in Detroit.

Blashill also said he expects captain Henrik Zetterberg to make his preseason debut Saturday.

The Miller-Glendening-Ott line will play in Hamilton.

INJURY UPDATE: Defenseman Mike Green has not played since last Friday at home against Boston.

"He could have played any of these mid-week games but I felt he had two real good exhibition games, I thought he took steps in the right direction, we didn't want to take any chances with him not being 100 percent," Blashill said. "He's practiced hard every day. He'll play Saturday."

Niklas Kronwall (knee) took part in the optional practice Thursday.

Defenseman Dan Renouf will not play the rest of the preseason.

"Renouf had an upper-body injury last night," Blashill said. "Out for at least a week."

AWARD FOR HOWE: Mark Howe, the Wings' director of pro scouting, was named a winner of the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

The other winner is ECHL co-founder Pat Kelly.

"As the Lester Patrick Award observes its 50th anniversary and the National Hockey League prepares to celebrate its Centennial, we are extremely pleased that Mark Howe and Pat Kelly are receiving this recognition for their decades of devotion to hockey in the United States," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Mark Howe, the youngest hockey player ever to win an Olympic medal prior to his Hall of Fame professional career, joins his legendary father, Gordie, as a Lester Patrick honoree. Pat Kelly attained success at all levels of the sport and pioneered the growth of hockey's popularity in the South. The NHL family sends congratulations and thanks to both for their contributions to our game."       

The New York Rangers presented the award to the NHL in 1966 in honor of the memory of Lester Patrick, who had a 50-year career in hockey as a player, coach and general manager.

Howe and Kelly will be honored during the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration on Nov. 30 in Philadelphia.

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