DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ top line will have a different look to it tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.
Wings coach Mike Babcock has inserted Tomas Jurco to skate alongside David Legwand and Johan Franzen to at least begin the game.
“He’s a big guy, good speed and good skill level,” Babcock said. “He gives us another real good player. He’s been an important guy for us, missed him when he was injured, helps on the power play. Good two-way player.”
Jurco, 21, has missed seven games with a broken rib.
“He probably thinks he’s dragging those old guys around,” Babcock said. “I can put (Gustav) Nyquist back there in a heartbeat but Nyquist on that line is flying. (Jurco) has a skill set, he makes good plays with the puck, can really skate. That line needs more tempo. We’re trying to have more balance, we need to generate on more than just one line.”
That move keeps the new Kid Line intact – Riley Sheahan, Nyquist and Tomas Tatar – and drops Daniel Alfredsson to the third line with Darren Helm and Joakim Andersson.
“The big thing with having players back that haven’t played in a while they’re trying to catch up,” Babcock said. “So you get their number back and their name on the back of the sweater but you watch them and they’re not the same. I’m hoping Helmer, now after a few games under his belt, will be Helmer and be able to contribute. Normally your first game back you’re all right and then you fall off the face of the world for a couple of games. So hopefully Jurcs can go tonight.”
Jurco has five goals and 10 points in 26 games.
“It’s a good chance for me, good opportunity for me to get back in the game quick,” Jurco said. “I know obviously the second with Shea and Tats and Gus were playing good so I understand that coach wants to keep them that way so hopefully I’m going to fit in the first line and we’re going to play good too.”
Before getting injured, Jurco was a winger on that kid line with Sheahan and Tatar.
“I just have to play my game, that means just keep being physical and try to win some battles for them and just put some pucks in the net hopefully it’s going to go in,” Jurco said.
Not doing so much with the puck is what Babcock wants from Jurco.
“He’s going to score better eventually but he’s got to be physical, he’s got to be hard guy, he’s got to get on the inside, all the dangling stuff, that doesn’t score any goals, I don’t know what all that stuff is for,” Babcock said. “Entertain your friends in practice, I guess.”