DETROIT >> Teemu Pulkkinen has finally earned himself some ice time with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Finnish-born forward is scheduled to make his NHL debut Friday against the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena.
He’ll replace Tomas Jurco in the lineup.
Jurco is suffering from a rib injury that occurred in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Columbus. According to Wings general manager Ken Holland he’ll miss 10-14 days and then be re-evaluated.
Pulkkinen leads Grand Rapids with 51 points (26 goals) in 60 games this season, taking full advantage of being the ‘go-to player’ with the departures of the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Juro and Riley Sheahan.
“He’s got a very dangerous shot and he’s got a lot of confidence to shoot the puck,” said Jiri Fischer, who’s the Wings’ director of player development. “Off the rush, he’s not afraid to challenge defensemen one-on-one. He just wants to play well. He just wants to be better than the other guy.”
That wasn’t the case early on in Pulkkinen’s development, where he found himself a healthy scratch quite often with the Griffins last season.
“He didn’t take the next step after being the rookie of the year,” Fischer said. “I believe he thought it was going to be easier for him to get better. I think he snoozed a little bit.
“When he got called up to Grand Rapids, he didn’t earn the trust of (Griffins coach) Jeff Blashill to put him consistently in the lineup. He was basically watching in the press box for almost the entire playoffs.”
That’s when the light clicked on.
“Last year he started to work a little bit harder,” Fischer said. “He showed up in our development camp and he won the treadmill test. He showed up in great shape.”
Pulkkinen got to practice with a number of the Wings during the Olympic break.
“I like to shoot the puck, I like (an) offensive game, try to make plays and shoot the puck,” Pulkkinen said back in February. “That’s how I try to help the team.
“I’ve tried to play good offensively and defensively, so maybe I’ve been better with defense,” Pulkkinen continued. “I just want to play hard. When (the) team is winning it’s good for every player.”
This is the second time Pulkkinen has been recalled.
He took the pre-game skate prior to the Wings’ game last Thursday against Colorado, just in case another forward was ruled out prior to game time.
“Everybody wants to play in the NHL,” Pulkkinen said. “Just work hard and do the right things. You never know what’s going to happen. You have to take it step-by-step.
“I just want to have fun,” Pulkkinen added. “That’s why I’m here, enjoying hockey. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was a little kid. We have a great team, so it’s been fun.”
Pulkkinen played just one preseason game in Detroit and that lasted all of one shift after he was ejected for boarding Chicago’s Michael Kostka.
Pulkkinen, who was penalized on the play, received a four-game suspension.
Pulkkinen slipped in the entry draft after injuring his shoulder and the Wings were able to get him in the fourth round, 111th overall, in 2010.
The year he was drafted he set the record for assists (36) by a rookie in the Finnish Elite League.
“Everybody talks about his shot, everybody talks about how he can score, about his dangerous shot,” Fischer said. “Well, you know what? The following year, he goes out and sets the record for most assists.”