Datsyuk returns; Jurco back in the lineup after three games as a healthy scratch

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings’ morning skate prior to their game at Joe Louis Arena tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Pavel Datsyuk (groin) and Tomas Jurco (healthy scratch) will both return to the lineup and skate on the same line, along with Justin Abdelkader.

“I was expecting to get back,” Jurco said. “I was just trying to work hard. Work hard at the practices and just work my way back into the lineup. Finally it’s tonight so I’m excited for it.”

Jurco had been a healthy scratch the last three games.

“I was getting frustrated before when I played, I couldn’t score,” Jurco said. “It just wouldn’t go in for me. I’ve got to stop thinking about it and just play my game and hopefully it’ll start going in.”

Jurco has no goals and two assists in 12 games.

Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Thursday that Jurco wasn’t benched because of his performance it was more he felt the lineup needed a change.

“I had a meeting with Babs and he told me the same thing,” Jurco said. “I didn’t think I didn’t play bad, I just couldn’t score. Maybe if I scored three goals before nobody would think I was playing bad. I didn’t score and I didn’t put up any great numbers. They needed a change and I was a good option for Babs to change the lineup. I’m back tonight. I can’t wait.”

“He’s a big, strong, young kid who can really skate,” Babcock said Friday. “He’s real good with the puck and we expect him to just go out there with confidence and play hard. I thought he was playing well in his last two games. We sat him out. He’s had three games to sit around and watch and decide how bad he wants to play and understand that it’s not a given. You have to earn the right to play. He’s getting an opportunity to play with Abby and Pav that are real good players and we need him to be good.”

Jurco had eight goals and seven assists in 36 games last season.

“The first time around no one expects anything,” Babcock said. “You guys didn’t even know his name, nor did I. So anything he did we said, ‘Great job, Jurcs, that a boy.’ But then what happens is when you play in the league there are expectations and if you played good there are expectations to do it again.

“The other team knows you did it and it’s a hard league,” Babcock continued. “There are a whole bunch of guys in the Guide and Record Book who did something well for one year and didn’t last in the league, and that’s why when you see these guys like (Henrik) Zetterberg and Datsyuk and (Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Kane and they do it year after year after year it’s not about skill as much as it is about will and determination and being a good pro.”

Datsyuk returns after missing the last two games with a sore groin.

“I haven’t played with him much,” Jurco said of Datsyuk. “He’s one of the best players in the world. It’s going to be real exciting for me. I’m going to try and enjoy the game and hopefully it’ll go well.”

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