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White Team earns 5-2 scrimmage win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. Jiri Hudler was back on a familiar line Tuesday afternoon.

After one period, Hudler was reunited with Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary on the top offensive line for the Red Team in the Red Wings’ annual Red & White scrimmage at Centre I.C.E. Arena.

Despite the reunion, Hudler’s Red Team didn’t fare so well on the scoreboard, dropping a 5-2 decision to the White Team in a two-period scrimmage, before a sold-out northern Michigan crowd.
Red Wings' Annual Red & White Scrimmage

But Hudler took Tuesday’s developments in stride.

“It's just a scrimmage,” Hudler said. “We've got eight exhibitions, maybe nine, in front of us. I don't feel like I have to prove something. I've just got to play my game, be confident, just like any other year.”

Hudler began camp on a line with a pair of guys on professional tryouts – center Ryan Johnson and forward Fabian Brunnstrom. But with Hudler’s ascension Tuesday, that meant that Patrick Eaves dropped from the Datsyuk line, and skated the second period with Cory Emmerton and Fabian Brunnstrom.

“I didn’t know that I would play Patty there as much as I had, and not Huds,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought Huds, Brunnstrom and Johnson were a really good line. … I just wanted to look at something else. I moved Emmerton and Johnson as well, just because they are guys battling for the same jobs. And now we’ll watch in exhibition.”

The Wings open up the exhibition season Wednesday night with a preseason game in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Tuesday, the White Team was led by Justin Abdelkader, who had a goal and an assist. Forwards Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist, Willie Coetzee and Henrik Zetterberg also scored for the White Team.

However, Babcock said that he was impressed by the Red Team, which practice for more than an hour before the start of the scrimmage.

“I thought that the Red Team had good energy for what they had already been through,” Babcock said. “I thought (Jan) Mursak was all over the puck, and hounded hard. I thought (Brendan) Smith was a good player today. I think that Ryan Johnson and Brunnstrom have done a real nice job for themselves.”

From a player’s perspective, Cleary said that he was glad to see Hudler back on his line.
“He was fine in the second period there,” Cleary said. “Listen, Huds is a good player. We played as a line a lot last year and we were pretty effective for at least a good month together. Huds is a talented player and it looks like he’s skating well. Real well.”

And if you’re Hudler, what’s not to like about playing on a line with one of the NHL’s best centers?

“Pavel is one of the best players in the world, maybe the best. It's really fun,” Hudler said. “He can do a lot of things, he can do it all by himself. We're just trying to help him out. I've played with him before. It's just fun. You don't have the puck a lot, you just have to manage yourself to get open.”

For Mike Commodore, this training camp and exhibition season is about getting to learn new terminology and getting acquainted with a new defensive partner, like highly-touted prospect Brendan Smith.

“I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things, as most guys are,” Commodore said. “But also trying to remember the things that we’ve been working on in practice, and getting used to my D partner – that would be a big thing, too.”

From what Commodore has seen in practice and scrimmages, he thinks Smith is the real deal.

“He’s a very good player, and I can see why they’re very high on him here,” Commodore said. “I think if he takes care of himself and keeps improving, I think he can be an excellent player. He skates well, and he has some offensive ability, and he competes too; he’s not afraid to get in there and battle a little bit. I would be excited if I were a Red Wings’ scout.”

Commodore and Smith will be the Wings’ second pairing when they travel to Consol Energy Center Wednesday to take on the Penguins. And like those in camp who need to impress the coaching staff, Commodore said that he’s anxious to earn a spot.

“Those aren’t the easiest games to get up for,” he said. “But in my situation, I’m trying to earn some ice-time and prove that I belong on this team, so I’ll be ready to go. It’s just about getting your feet under you, and showing what you can do, and make some plays. At the end of the day tomorrow, I just want to have been a physical presence, have made some good plays and was solid in my own end.”

First Period
Scoring: WHITE – Helm (Abdelkader, Bertuzzi) 19:31; WHITE – Nyquist (Coetzee, Andersson) 2:00. Penalties: None.
Second Period
Scoring: WHITE – Abdelkader (Helm) 12:02; WHITE – Coetzee (Ehrhardt) 11:10; RED – Datsyuk (Cleary) 9:40; WHITE – Zetterberg (Filppula, Franzen) 9:11; RED – Conner (Smith, Mursak) 4:00. Penalties: None
WHITE  11 12 -- 23
RED      14 19 -- 33
WHITE – Conklin (14-of-14), Pearce (17-of-19)
RED – Howard (9-of-11), MacDonald (9-of-12)

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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