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This and that

DETROIT >> Justin Abdelkader didn’t practice Thursday. Wings general manager Ken Holland said he was given a maintenance day and should be fine to go Friday.

Stephen Weiss filled in on his line with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.

Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) and Daniel Cleary (healthy) were in gray.

Jimmy Howard will start Friday and Jonas Gustavsson will start in the rematch against the Leafs Saturday at home.

Wings’ fourth line seeing increased ice time

DETROIT >> Riley Sheahan’s line couldn’t do it and neither could the line centered by Darren Helm.

The Wings’ fourth line – Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson with Luke Glendening in the middle – did.

Wings coach Mike Babcock had Glendening’s line on the ice every time Anaheim put its second forward line with Ryan Kesler on the ice from the second period on Saturday night and they held him in check.

“For this team to win we’ve got to have 20 competitive guys every single night,” Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “If we don’t, we’re going to have a harder time. “I think that line has been one of our best lines two games in a row. They do what they do.”

Normal fourth lines in the NHL average less than 10 minutes a game. Through two games, the Wings’ fourth line is averaging 14 minutes a game.

“They check like crazy, they’re gritty,” Babcock said. “Glenny is a pain in the butt, let’s be honest, done a real nice job. Andy can make plays, he’s a good passer, he’s smart and competes. Millsy is real smart and works hard.

“They all three brought their game and that’s what we have to do,” Babcock continued. “You can’t play your game part way through, you’ve got to bring your game, you’ve got to arrive on time and you’ve got to compete. I think our team has a chance to be lightning fast and be a pain to play against.”

The three forwards, along with Justin Abdelkader, are also on the penalty kill that hasn’t allowed a goal in seven power play chances.

“You try and have as much O-zone time as you can and put pressure on their D,” Miller said. “We all know how to play that role and what our job is. They don’t ask us, I mean we want to score, but we’re not out there on the power play, playing minutes like (Henrik Zetterberg) and (Johan Franzen). We go out there and play our minutes and play our role.”

Glendening also scored a goal in the 3-2 loss to the Ducks.

“We’re a hardworking line, that plays smart and good defensively,” Andersson said. “We’re happy we got a lot of minutes there even though we started on fourth line.”

Babcock: Nestrasil has “earned the right to start today”; Weiss, Cleary heatlhy scratches; Kindl in over Lashoff

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game tonight against the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena.

Andrej Nestrasil will indeed make his NHL debut, skating on a line with Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.

“The good thing for me is it’s right after camp so I’ve played five games,” Nestrasil said. “I’m sure I’ll be nervous before the game, but it’s a little different when you get called up from the AHL and you don’t know the guys here. I’ve been here for a month and a half so I’m really familiar with the things we do here and I think I’ll be fine.”

Nestrasil was just informed he was playing Thursday morning.

“I slept like a baby,” Nestrasil smiled. “It doesn’t make me nervous that I’m playing tonight. If it’s something you expect maybe you’d be nervous so because maybe I didn’t expect it all I just didn’t have time to catchup with the whole thing.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock also has Nestrasil playing on the second power play unit.

“I kind of thought I was going to play based on what line I was practicing with so I was almost sure I would,” Nestrasil said. “It’s really good I am because so many people from back home texting me expecting me to play. I told them all the calm down, it’s day by day. I’m glad so know they call can watch it tonight.

“I felt like someone put glue in my hand two days ago and stuck my phone in there because I seriously the one day I had 100 percent battery and two hours it was all gone,” Nestrasil added. “Today, I’m turning off my phone to get a rest and get ready for the game.”

Nestrasil was impressive during training camp after totaling 16 goals and 20 assists in his first full season with Grand Rapids last year.

“You want to share that with the people you love and the people that helped you along the way,” Babcock said. “I thought Nesty played well. We’re in a situation without Pavel (Datsyuk) that we need another body. He played well and he earned his right to start today.”

Datsyuk (shoulder) will miss his first season opener since joining the Wings.

Datsyuk, who is on short-term injured reserve, separated his right shoulder on Sept. 22. He was slated to sidelined four weeks.

He began skating with the team this week, but has not taken part in many drills and has yet to be cleared for contact.

Jakub Kindl got the nod over Brian Lashoff on the blue line. He’ll be paired with Kyle Quincey.

Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary are both healthy scratches.

Datsyuk out Thursday; Babcock not ready to announce rest of lineup

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday.

Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) is officially out of the lineup for Thursday’s season opener against the Boston Bruins.

It appears Andrej Nestrasil will be in the lineup, but it’s not official.

“Why don’t we just announce the lineup tomorrow so if anything changes I don’t have to change my mind,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Nestrasil was skating on a line with Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.

As for the sixth defenseman, it’ll be between Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff. Both split time at practice with Kyle Quincey.

The rest of the forward lines and D-pairing remained the same: Abdelkader-Zetterberg-Franzen; Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco; Miller-Glendening-Andersson; Kronwall-Ericsson; Smith-DeKeyser.

“When you look at our roster from opening day last year to this year, I’ve had some people say that the roster is the same, but there are six forwards different so it’s night and day different from what it was,” Babcock said. “It’s a much quicker team, a much more useful team. If we’re fortunate to have Pav and Z play, and stay healthy, we’re a better team that way.

“It’s just growth,” Babcock continued. “Now, you’ve done it once, you’ve got to do it again. There’s a whole bunch of guys that have done it one time. So time is going to tell. I know they’ve worked hard and competed in the summer to get stronger and quicker and they’re more confident now and it just has to translate on the ice.”

The Bruins, who open the season Wednesday, beat the Wings in five games in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

“They thumped us,” Babcock said. “They absolutely thumped us. We didn’t play as good as we thought and they’re a real good team. We played them twice in exhibition and five times at the end of last year. I know Claude (Julien) real well and lots of the players so we have a good understanding how we’re going to play and they have a good understanding how we’re going to play. Now we just have to see who’ll compete for the puck more and who wins.”

The teams also met twice during the preseason.

This and that … Nyquist returns to pratice; Helm makes it two days in a row on ice

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist (knee) returned to practice. Darren Helm (groin) practiced a second straight day. Ericsson (groin/hip flexor) did not practice. Babcock won’t know if Nyquist or Helm will play Wednesday. … Each of the Wings’ three goalies will get a start in the final preseason games, starting with Jimmy Howard, followed by Jonas Gustavsson and Petr Mrazek.

Helm ready for move from center to wing

DETROIT >> With the abundance of centers on the Wings’ roster, coach Mike Babcock has to move at least one or them to wing.

The early candidate is Darren Helm.

“I’m going to start like that, I think,” Babcock said after watching a number of the Wings’ on-ice workout at Joe Louis Arena. “(I like) his tenacity, pace, heaviness on the puck and because I’ve got to have room for other guys, I think he can help.”

The move to wing also brings Helm a promotion to one of Detroit’s top two lines since Babcock has him skating alongside Pavel Datsyuk.

“To give Pavel that tenacity to help Pav out a little bit,” Babcock said. “Helmer can play down low in the zone too a bit for him. This all depends on (Stephen) Weiss and his situation and how healthy everyone else is. Camp starts the 19th. That’s a chunk of time away.”

Helm said Thursday that Babcock first told him of the move during their end-of-season meetings.

“It’s not a huge shock,” Helm said. “Look around the locker room and we have six or seven NHL center-icemen so someone was going to have to change. And the guys that are coming up are great center-men. It’ll be fun to have a chance to play the wing with one of the best players in the league. I hope to find success, stay there and help this team win.”

Helm isn’t a stranger to playing wing, but it’s not as natural as playing center.

“I need to make sure the pucks on the wall are getting out,” said Helm, who recalled playing wing for one shift in 2010-11 season and roughly 15 games last year. “Besides that there isn’t a whole lot I need to change. Because of the way we play, first guy back in the zone he’s playing low anyway. There will be times where I have to cover the point so that’s another area I’ll need to work on.”

Helm could also use his speed more on the wing.

“Anytime the puck is going up the weak-side wall it’s an opportunity for me to push the pace,” Helm said. “I can open up some space for everyone else and if there are loose pucks I can chase them down. Both positions you have to use your speed at different times. It’s about using your brains and smarts to know when to use it.”

Along with Datsyuk, Helm and Weiss at center, the Wings also have Riley Sheahan, Joakim Andersson and Luke Glendening. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen can also play center.

“I had a lot of centers for Canada at the Olympics,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s just play hockey. I tell you what, the forwards, there’s a jam here for players. We’ve got good players. You’ve got a lot of forwards coming at you. She’s open on the back end. There’s a chance to make the team there.”

Babcock has Sheahan centering one of the bottom two lines, while Glendening and Andersson will battle to center the other line.

“(Helm) has a lot of speed and a lot of skill,” Zetterberg said. “I think it will free up Pav a little bit. They really have to worry where No. 43 is on the ice and with Pav’s skill and the way he can pass the puck it could be a good weapon to have.

“The other thing too now that we’re all healthy, we have a lot of center-men,” Zetterberg added. “Everyone can’t play center, so we have to put someone on the wing.”

The Wings’ top four centers that began the season – Datsyuk, Helm, Weiss and Andersson, along with Zetterberg – were all sidelined at once at one point last year.

At training camp, Babcock will have Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Weiss be first-line centers on their respective teams.

Rough stuff

DETROIT >> Of the seven penalties the Wings drew Sunday, four were for roughing.

“Emotions are running high,” Darren Helm said. “(Milan) Lucic said it pretty well after he got (Danny) DeKeyser, emotions sometimes get the best of you. Last night I thought that’s what happened. Emotions are running high, we got into some scrums that we shouldn’t be getting into. We’re a team that plays between the whistles, not after the whistles.”

“It’s a lot of emotions out there,’ Nyquist said. “It’s the playoffs. They like to get involved after the whistles a lot. We’re standing up for ourselves. It’s just how it is in the playoffs. There are a lot of emotions.”

Three of the Bruins’ penalties on Sunday were for roughing.

“I think it’s pretty clear, our team has to be physically engaged, but again, within the rules,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “When we’re not we’re in the penalty box. We have to find a way to stay out of the box a little bit more. To me, we’re in the box for too many penalties and down the road that can hurt you. So playing within the rules and being physical is part of our strength, so we have to be that team. The after-whistle scrums are certainly not pre-planned, it’s just two teams that are intense and ready to battle for their space and it’s as easy as that.”