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Andersson in for Alfredsson; Drew hopes to face his brother, Ryan, in St. Louis

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ practice that took place at University Liggett, Saturday afternoon.

Daniel Alfredsson won’t play Sunday in St. Louis.

Joakim Andersson will take his spot after being a healthy scratch the last five games.

“That was my first time ever being a healthy scratch,” Andersson said. “It’s tough, obviously. The guys have been doing good, made the playoffs. It’s going to be fun going into a series.”

Andersson will skate with Darren Helm and Tomas Jurco.

“We have a lot of good players,” Andersson said. “A lot of guys from Grand Rapids were playing well. Myself, I haven’t been great.”

Andersson, who missed six games with a broken foot, is a minus-11 in 64 games this season.

“This season has been up and down for me,” said Andersson, who has eight goals and nine assists. “I think I can be a better player. Other players have been doing good.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said that sitting Andersson had nothing to do with his play on the ice.

“Andy’s been good,” Babcock said. “Andy just got in a situation where I tried something else, it worked. Andy’s a good player, plays hard for us, a smart, important part of our team. It had nothing to do with anything he did.”

Drew Miller may get another chance to face his brother, Ryan, Sunday as well.

“I’m always trying to score goals every game,” said Drew, who has yet to score a goal on his brother in the NHL. “Nothing really changes there. It would be cool to get one on him. Record wise I know I have him. Not sure what it is, but I know I have him pretty good I think. We’ll see if we can continue that.

“I’ve had a few shots, but nothing that I would say was a Grade-A chance,” Drew added. “Every game I just try and do what I do.”

Ryan was dealt from Buffalo to the Blues prior to the trade deadline.

“It went to seeing him maybe once a year, to having him in our division and then he leaves,” Drew said. “Then we play them two more times at the end of the year and he’s already gone from Buffalo. I guess that’s just the way it works sometimes.

“Any chance you get to play against each other it’s fun,” Drew continued. “You try and make the most of it. Most of it is off the ice, just getting a chance to see him.”

Wings can’t get over playoff clinching emotional hangover in 2-1 loss to Hurricanes

DETROIT >> Just one game after clinching a berth in this year’s playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings went back to playing how they did earlier in the season at Joe Louis Arena … poorly.

Carolina got a 28-save performance from Cam Ward and goals from Elias Lindholm and Jiri Tlusty to skate past the Wings, 2-1, Friday night.

“No question,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if the team had an emotional letdown after clinching a playoff berth a couple nights ago. “Might even expect it, but that’s not an excuse. We have a good enough team to win tonight we just have to play right.”

Detroit got a third period goal from Riley Sheahan and Jimmy Howard stopped 17 shots.

“You can’t cheat the system, it doesn’t work like that,” Babcock said. “If you do good things, good things happen. If you don’t, you turn the puck over I don’t know how many times, needlessly for no reason and in the end their goaltender was really good, we didn’t make it hard enough on them. We didn’t have enough net presence, second chances and then just intensity, we had wide open nets. If you’re focused and you’re dialed in you shoot it in the net.”

It’s the first regular season win by the Carolina franchise at JLA since a 3-0 win by the Hartford Whalers on Nov. 14, 1989.

“I think we’ve been playing playoff type hockey to get ourselves in,” Drew Miller said. “It’s not really the time we shouldn’t be playing the way we should.”

With at least a point Friday Detroit would have vaulted in front of Columbus for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference after the Blue Jackets fell to Tampa Bay.

In order to garner that spot now, the Wings need to beat St. Louis on Sunday and have Philadelphia get no more than one point in its last two games and have the Blue Jackets do the same in their final game.

“Probably,” Johan Franzen said when asked if he thought it was a mental letdown after clinching the playoff berth. “I think so and hope so. Hopefully we can get ourselves back together here and start playing the way we want to before the playoffs.”

If Detroit is the second wild card it’s a series with Boston. If it’s the top wild card it’s Pittsburgh.

After Sheahan got the Wings on the board on the power play just four minutes into the third period, Ward stood on his head to keep Carolina in front.

Ward preserved his team’s one-goal lead after robbing Justin Abdelkader with his left pad on a one-time down low after a pass from Pavel Datsyuk.

Just moments later, Darren Helm spun John-Michael Liles to the ground to go one-on-one with Ward, but he was turned aside by his blocker this time.

“We had enough chances to win, but we didn’t really do all the small things like we’ve been doing to win all the games,” Franzen said. “We were a little loose. It happens. You don’t want to play like that. We don’t want to exchange chances like that, going up and down. We don’t want to play that type of game. It is what it is. Try to win the next one.”

But the first two period cost the Wings.

“I don’t think we had much intensity through two periods,” Babcock said. “I thought we had a good push, but the reality is we weren’t good enough. We had tons of chances. Their goaltender was good, but we didn’t play right. When you don’t play hard enough, you don’t play right, you don’t win. As a group we weren’t good enough.

“At one point we had a 4-on-3, they had a 3-on-1,” Babcock continued. “We had a 3-on-2. That’s not how we play. That’s river hockey. That’s not how we’re going to have success. I was disappointed in the fact that we didn’t stick to what we have to do to have success, but it’s a good reminder for us too.”

The Hurricanes opened the scoring on the power play eight minutes into the first period.

All alone down low, Lindholm took a pass at the side of Howard, brought it off his backhand to forehand before chipping a shot off the glove of the Wings’ netminder.

Carolina entered the game with the second worst power play in the league.

Ten minutes later, Carolina doubled its lead when Tlusty banged home a rebound off Howard’s blocker from a shot by Eric Staal. Tlusty worked his way in front of Brendan Smith entering the Wings’ zone.

In the second, Staal looked like he had given Carolina a 3-0 lead after chipping a puck over Howard’s glove, but an alert Jakub Kindl backhanded it out of the air and then out of harm’s way.

Ins and outs: Gustavsson out with a left shoulder injury

DETROIT >> The Wings went with the same lineup they have the last two games with Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi being healthy scratches.

Petr Mrazek was recalled from Grand Rapids to back Jimmy Howard up.

Jonas Gustavsson is nursing an injured left shoulder. An injury he suffered in the 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Wings coach Mike Babcock on Tomas Jurco: “He needs to be physical on the forecheck and he’s got to be physical at their net.”

DETROIT >> Offensively, Tomas Jurco is chipping in where needed.

But there’s one element to his game that Wings coach Mike Babcock wants to see on a more regular basis.

“It’s really straight forward for Tomas, he’s got to play a simple game,” Babcock said after the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game against Carolina at Joe Louis Arena. “He’s got to be physical on the forecheck and he’s got to be physical at their net. Then, everything else will happen for him. When he isn’t he’s just another player in the league.

“When he wants to get physical, wants to get involved physically, he’s got such great pace, such great strength, he’s got great hands in tight, that he’s going to be an effective player,” Babcock added.

Entering play Friday, Jurco had three goals over his last four games.

“Obviously there’s more confidence with the goals,” Jurco said. “It just started going in for me a little more than it used to. I know I’m trying to get at the net and maybe have some rebounds. I was trying to shoot more and I guess that I couldn’t score, so I just went to the net and tried to get some rebounds, so it’s going pretty well for me and hopefully it’s going to stay like this.”

Jurco found success early on with former Grand Rapids linemates Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar to form the ‘Kid Line’.

But then lapses in his game crept up and soon he found himself on the fourth line.

Now, Jurco is skating on the third line with Darren Helm and Daniel Alfredsson.

“I’m trying to get some nice goals, but there’s no reason for me to change anything now since it’s going in,” Jurco said. “Obviously, it’s nice to score some highlight reel goals, like Gus does, but I’m going to take mine, too.”

“Good speed with Helmer and Jurco on it and Alfie gets to use his skill set which is his brain,” Babcock said of the line.

Jurco, along with his other Griffin teammates, got the vote of confidence from Babcock after the Wings clinched a berth in the postseason on Wednesday.

“It helps me a lot but I’m never sure,” Jurco said. “My mind is always like I have to keep working hard otherwise I’m going to go down. I’m never good with what’s going on right now, I always want to be better, work hard to stay here. Obviously, I have more confidence now but I’m still trying to work hard.”

Jurco has one more year left on a deal that pays him $709,167 before becoming a restricted free agent.

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock on what Daniel Alfredsson and David Legwand has brought to the team.

“I don’t to take anything away from Pav or Z, because they’re huge parts of our team, but Nik Kronwall set the tone for this team this year because he did it every day, all the time. Alfredsson gave him another support guy, along with the Mule, in my opinion, because those other guys weren’t available to us.

“When you look at that group right there, to me they did the most of the work leadership wise,” Babcock continued. “That’s so critical. We all want to rave about our kids, but we don’t make the playoff unless Ken makes that deal at the deadline. If we don’t Legwand we don’t get in the playoffs.”

Johan Franzen: “We want to keep winning.”

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to hosting the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Joe Louis Arena in their final regular season home game.

Coach Mike Babcock will keep with the same lineup he’s had the last two games, sitting Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi.

“We have to get better as a team,” Babcock said after the skate. “It’s so important to get better as a team. Every year we have a system review as soon as we get in, in other words we look at the details in our game so we’re ready going in.

“We play four lines,” Babcock continued. “We roll you out the door. We don’t know who’s first or who’s fourth until the game’s over because whoever plays good gets to play and we’re going to do the same thing tonight. We have to tighten up details.”

Jimmy Howard will start.

The Wings host a Carolina team that has just 79 points on the year.

“There’s not really going to be any change,” Riley Sheahan said. “Obviously we’re comfortable with the spot we’re in, but we’ve still got to play and we’ve still got to stay focused and keep winning. We’re not going to change anything and we’re going to keep going in with the same attitude.”

If the season ended prior to tonight’s game, the Wings would face Boston in the opening round. If they’re able to climb into that first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference they would open with Pittsburgh.

“We just want to be playing well,” Justin Abdelkader said. “Any team that gets in they just want to be playing well. We’re not worried about we’re going to play. Everything will sort itself out.”

Detroit went 3-0-1 against the Bruins this year and ended the year 1-1-1 against the Penguins.

“We want to keep winning,” Johan Franzen said. “We want to win these last two games and maybe climb up a spot. So, that’s our focus right now.

“I think it’s more we want to keep the winning going and come into the playoffs with a good feeling,” Franzen continued when asked if it mattered who they played in the first round. “Even if you say a loss like that doesn’t matter, it’s still a loss and we all want to win all the time. You feel worse after you lose than after a win, so we want to keep building our confidence and keep playing good.”

Detroit ends the regular season Sunday in St. Louis.

Columbus and Philadelphia also have 91 points and both have two games left in the regular season. Both teams hold the tiebreaker on the Wings, wins in regulation.

“You want to go on the playoffs on a roll and play good these last two games so we feel good about ourselves going in,” Abdelkader said.

Petr Mrazek is being recalled to backup Howard tonight.

Wings’ general manager Ken Holland: “Our guys dug deep.”

DETROIT >> Ken Holland’s philosophy of making sure minor leaguers are “over ripe” before coming to the NHL really paid off.

With a roster filled with a bunch of youngsters, Detroit qualified for the playoffs a 23rd consecutive season after its 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wednesday night.

“Establish yourself as a legitimate premier minor league player and then you prove it at the next level,” the Wings’ general manager said during a phone interview Thursday. “That’s how you get to the American League from juniors, or college or Europe. When you’re an established, top notch player, we sign you to a contract to the next level.”

One of the youngsters, Riley Sheahan, scored the tying goal Wednesday that guaranteed the Wings a spot in the postseason for a 23rd consecutive season.

Another youngster, Gustav Nyquist, leads the team with 28 goals and is tied for second in points with 48. And all that came in 55 games.

Tomas Tatar is sixth on the team in scoring with 19 goals and 18 assists, which are two goals and two points ahead of world-class center Pavel Datsyuk.

Then there’s Luke Glendening, who’s been matched up with some of the league’s elite in the closing moments of games.

“Leading the Grand Rapids Griffins last year was Tatar, Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening so when they got their call they didn’t come up here wondering if they could play they had done it at another level so the next step for them was to go to the NHL,” Holland said. “Now can you do it? I don’t know, but that time in the minors prepares them to be the best that they can be.”

These last two weeks, Glendening has played head-to-head against Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron.

“You’re talking Olympic players and we found a way to beat Pittsburgh at home and we beat Boston at home,” Holland said. “We’re 9-3-2 in our last 14 games. Of the nine wins, one’s Pittsburgh, one’s Boston, two huge games against Toronto, we beat a Tampa Bay, a team that we hadn’t in a long time in regulation. Our guys dug deep.”

Prior to 2005, when there was no salary cap, the Wings had more depth than anybody because they had the opportunity to spend way more money than most of the competition.

Since 2005, just two teams have made the playoffs every year, San Jose and Detroit.

“When you have a year with a lot of injuries it probably can affect your ability to win constantly,” Holland said. “The last two years we got hit with a lot of injures. Last year, the core was in the lineup every night and it was a 48-game schedule.

“This was an 82-game schedule,” Holland continued. “The longer the schedule the harder it is to get in. You get more separation over time. We basically got a half year out of (Henrik Zetterberg), a half year out of Pav, we’re probably going to have 25-30 games out for (Jonathan) Ericsson, 15-20 games down for (Danny) DeKeyser and (Johan Franzen) was down for 25-30 games. Stephen Weiss was hurt early and he played injured at the end. We lost him for three quarters of the season. The depth of our organization, through the jobs of our scouts, Jiri Fischer and Jeff Blashill, allowed our kids to come in.”

Zetterberg, Ericsson most likely won’t be ready for start of playoffs

DETROIT >> Wings general manager Ken Holland said Thursday during a phone interview, that Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson won’t be ready for the start of the playoffs, which will begin as early as Wednesday.

“I would say probably, definitely Ericsson and Zetterberg won’t be available early in the first playoff series,” Holland said. “Are they available later, that we’ll have to run 10 more days out and see.”

Zetterberg underwent successful surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc that was rubbing against a nerve and caused severe back pain.

“I think Zetterberg has skated a little bit on his own this week,” Holland said. “I don’t know how he feels. I don’t know how hard he went. I don’t know if he just went on a pair of skates and just coasted around. I do know when he had surgery it would be about eight weeks and I think seven weeks is on Thursday, which is basically game one of a playoff series. Eight weeks is around game four.

Zetterberg, who has played just 45 games this season for the Wings, has been sidelined since the Winter Olympics after playing just one game with Sweden.

“I don’t know if he’s tracking,” Holland said. “I don’t know if we’ll know until he pushes things. If he went out these last couple of days and wasn’t feeling very good then he’s not on schedule. If we went out and felt OK then I guess he’s on schedule.”

Ericsson had successful surgery to stabilize his fractured finger and repair a partially torn tendon on March 19.

“With Ericsson, the broken finger isn’t the issue,” Holland said. “The issue is that he had cartilage reattached. That’s supposed to be about six weeks.”

Kids helped Wings reach playoffs a 23rd consecutive season. “They’re not going anywhere,” Babcock says.

DETROIT >> If the Detroit Red Wings have proved anything this season it’s that they can play through adversity.

And play pretty well.

With a roster filled with a bunch of youngsters, Detroit qualified for the playoffs a 23rd consecutive season after its 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wednesday night.

“That tells a lot about them as (people) and players, but I also believe it comes from the coaching staff, from the beginning they gave them that chance, didn’t make it a big deal, it’s just ‘you can do this,’” Daniel Alfredsson said. “That gave them confidence and they definitely made the most of it. Coach gave them a chance they repaid him with solid play.”

One of the youngsters, Riley Sheahan, scored the tying goal Wednesday that guaranteed the Wings a spot in the postseason.

Another youngster, Gustav Nyquist, leads the team with 28 goals and is tied for second in points with 48. And all that came in 55 games.

Tomas Tatar is sixth on the team in scoring with 19 goals and 18 assists, which is two goals and two points ahead of world-class center Pavel Datsyuk.

“For sure, no question,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if the play of the former Grand Rapids Griffins saved their season. “We couldn’t have done it without them. They came here and took jobs, they’re not going anywhere.

“They’re real good players that keep getting better and will be part of us for a long time,” Babcock continued. “What I liked is Jimmy Nill and his staff, before Jimmy moved on, did a real good job because we have these kids. (Jeff Blashill) did a real good job in the minors with them.”

Detroit ranks second in man games lost, according to mangameslost.com, and large chunk of those missing have been top-line talent.

Henrik Zetterberg has played just 45 games this year due to a bad back. Datsyuk, who only returned recently, has dressed for 43 games.

“We knew it was going to be tough, we had similar situation in Ottawa last year when we lost (Jason) Spezza, (Erik) Karlsson, (Milan) Michalek and (Craig) Anderson for long periods of time,” Alfredsson said. “If you get something going and get a good feeling in the locker room you can accomplish a lot of things and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

Zetterberg, who underwent successful surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc that was rubbing against a nerve and caused severe back pain, is supposed to be available sometime during the first round of the playoffs.

The team also expects to have Jonathan Ericsson back during the first round as well. Ericsson had successful surgery to stabilize his fractured finger and repair a partially torn tendon on March 19.

“We’re a good group, we have fun and we know how to work for each other,” Alfredsson said. “It’s kind of contagious when you see everybody going. Everybody kind of drags along and now they pull their share as well.”

The Wings, who last missed the playoffs in the 1989-90 season, will go into the postseason as one of two wild cards and therefore will play either top-seeded Boston or the second-seeded Penguins.

Detroit went 3-0-1 against the Bruins this year and ended the year 1-1-1 against Pittsburgh.

“I’m not spending a whole lot of time worrying about this stuff,” Babcock said. “We’re just in and whoever we get we’re going to be a tough out.”

Columbus and the Wings both have 91 points, but the Blue Jackets hold the tiebreaker with more wins in regulation.

“I like the way we’re playing,” Alfredsson said. “We’re going to play Pittsburgh or Boston, two very strong teams, but we’re playing well. I don’t think we’ll go in and be the favorites but we’re going to keep doing what we’ve done all year and that’s go out there and give it everything we have.”

Philadelphia and the New York Rangers could also slip back into one of the two wild card spots. Both of those teams also hold the tiebreaker over Detroit, which close the season Friday at home against Carolina and then Sunday in St. Louis.

“I think we’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point,” Alfredsson said. “This group has overcome a lot of adversity and that makes it even more fun. I think we’ll try to finish off strong here and go into the playoffs feeling good.”

Babcock not taking Sabres or anyone lightly at this time of the season

Despite playing the league’s worst team tonight, the Buffalo Sabres, Wings coach Mike Babcock isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We have to be prepared for tonight,” Babcock told reporters after the morning skate in Buffalo. “All you have to do is … if you watched Calgary and New Jersey (Monday) night, or Anaheim go into Edmonton, these games aren’t easy to win. They never are. They’re NHL players and an NHL team with pride that you’re playing against. You’ve got to dig in and you’ve got to play well. The biggest thing is you have to be playing well this time of year to have success anyway.”

Thanks for a 1-0 win by the Flames over the Devils on Monday, Detroit’s magic number is now three. That number is reduced by any combination of points the Wings gain or lost points by New Jersey, which has three games left on their schedule.

The Sabres have a league-worst 51 points, 14 fewer than Edmonton, which has the second-lowest point total.

“You always want to get better,” Babcock said. “I think our team has gotten better all year long and our kids are understanding more what it takes. I liked our power play entries the last game, I thought we got in the zone real well and the game before. I liked our penalty kill. I thought we could have executed better from the back end a few times in two games, so we got to do better in that area. We can’t lose F-3, F-3 can’t be impatient and dive in and give up odd-man rushes against.”

Jimmy Howard will start in goal against the Sabres, while Joakim Andersson and Todd Bertuzzi will be the healthy scratches.

The Wings are looking to extend their streak to qualifying for the playoffs for 23 consecutive seasons.

“The biggest thing to me is we have good players and then there’s been a culture created and a demand and expectation for success,” Babcock said. “Ideally, our young players are getting that. I’m a big believer that when you get a young player, and four or five years later, if he isn’t a good pro, it’s on your watch. It’s your responsibility. If they don’t have enough personal drive to become a good one, then make sure they’re in someone else’s organization. But the ones that stay in yours have to be pros, have to be every-dayers, have to be consistent in their effort. Your performance isn’t always what you want it to be but your effort and your professionalism has to be and that’s something you can control and we really try to focus on those areas.

“I keep hearing about how it’s passed on and then I tell these guys I don’t believe a whole bunch of stuff is passed on,” Babcock continued. “You’ve got to re-establish it each and every year. If you think it’s there just because you put your sweater on that’s not the way it works. It’s maintaining, it’s an accountability process that goes from year to year.”