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Pulkkinen has yet to register a point with Wings; he’s not pressing and just happy team is winning

DETROIT >> Teemu Pulkkinen went from being a team’s leading scorer to having difficulty finding room to shoot the puck.

Heading into play Tuesday, Pulkkinen has no goals and no assists in five games, while averaging a little over 12 minutes a game.

He also has just eight shots on goal.

“There’s no space,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s the NHL, so there’s no space. In the American League or in Europe you swing by something or you cruise around, big shot, if you’re not in the right spot you never get the puck and then if your feet aren’t turned right so you can release it on the one-touch you never getting a shot. It’s just coming in and getting used to the league and understanding. It usually takes guys, unless you’re an absolute superstar, more than one try.”

Prior to being called up from Grand Rapids, Pulkkinen led the AHL in scoring with 20 goals and was tied for second with 39 points.

He had also equaled a Griffins franchise record prior to joining the Wings with goals in eight consecutive games. The mark was set by Donald MacLean in the 2005-06 season.

“I feel pretty good, unfortunately I haven’t scored any goals or gotten any points,” Pulkkinen said. “For me this is good experience and I now I know I can play here and compete against these guys and battle hard against stronger and bigger guys.”

Pulkkinen was moved to the top power play unit for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

“When you try harder to score you never score,” Pulkkinen said. “You just have to keep going, feel calm and relaxed and just play the way you play. When you start pushing it too much it’s not going to be good. I just go out and play. Of course I want to score, but it’s not easy. It’ll come.”

Pulkkinen played three games last season with the Wings and didn’t register a point while averaging less than eight minutes of ice time per game.

“It’s hard here,” Pulkkinen said. “The game is faster, players are aggressive, stronger. The game is better here. The D knows how to block the shots, where to be when guys are shooting.

“I want to score goals, get some points, but I don’t want to get frustrated that I haven’t scored,” Pulkkinen continued. “The team is winning right now so that’s perfect. Everything is good here. I just try and push hard and play better every night.”

Pulkkinen had just four shots on goal in those three games last season in Detroit.

“It’s been good,” Pulkkinen said. “We’ve won the last four games so it’s good for the team. The team is playing really good. It’s good right now.”

Pulkkinen, along with Xavier Ouellet, was selected to the AHL All-Star game, which takes place on Jan. 26.
He wasn’t sure if he’ll be playing in it or not.

“I think I’m going there,” Pulkkinen said. “We’ll see after the game to see what for sure is going on. They’re going to decide what’s going on.”

Babcock juggles third and fourth lines; team looks for Mrazek to bounce back

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to taking on the Minnesota Wild tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Wings coach Mike Babcock has switched up his third and fourth lines.

He’s got Riley Sheahan centering Drew Miller and Luke Glendening, while Joakim Andersson will center Stephen Weiss and Teemu Pulkkinen.

For Andersson, it’s the first time he’ll play center all season.

“Working down low in the D-zone is the biggest difference I would say,” Andersson said. “Playing wing, on the wall, you have to get the pucks out and stuff. It’s stuff you’re not used to and breaking out of the zone when we rim the puck up the walls, you’re not used to that as a center, otherwise not too much.”

When Andersson had been in the lineup he was playing wing alongside Glendending, who centered the line, and Miller.

“The way we play we try and have all three forwards doing everything right,” Andersson said. “The first guy will play down low, as a winger you might not have as much responsibility to be the third guy. We have to have all three guys doing everything.”

Andersson has a goal and four assists in 34 games this season.

Petr Mrazek will be back in goal. Mrazek was pulled on Sunday after allowing three goals on seven shots against the Buffalo Sabres.

“The team was brutal, let’s be honest,” Babcock said of his team’s 6-4 come-from-behind win over the Sabres. “He was part of it. No one was prepared to play. He never got an opportunity to play in the second and third when everyone else got an opportunity to bail themselves out, so he has an opportunity here. That’s what the league is about, it’s an everyday league. Part of being a young guy is when you have success is you dwell on the success instead of getting ready for tomorrow. You have these lapses in back to back games with young guys, so here’s an opportunity to bounce back.”

Howard out 2-4 weeks, possibly longer

DETROIT >> According to Wings general manger Ken Holland goalie Jimmy Howard is out 2-4 weeks with a slight groin tear.

The team has scheduled an ultrasound Monday to see the extent of the damage.

“We think he’s out through the All-Star break and maybe beyond,” Holland texted. “In my 18 years of being a GM I’ve found no one really knows how one player heals.”

Howard was placed on IR and will miss a minimum of a week.

Severity of Howard’s injury still undetermined

DETROIT >> For the time being, this is Petr Mrazek’s team.

Mrazek has been elevated to the Wings’ No. 1 goalie after the team placed Jimmy Howard on injured reserve with a groin injury.

“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re going to have to get him settled down a little bit. There’s a point where he challenges and then over-challenges. We’ve got to get that under control. We should have no trouble with that.”

It’s still not known the extent of Howard’s injury.

He had an MRI Sunday, but will need to have an ultrasound Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Howard, who had just been named to the 2015 All-Star Game, was injured Saturday night after he gave the puck away behind the net and then lunged his left leg backwards to try and reach the post before Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored just 1:53 into the first period.

He was taken from the ice on a stretcher.

Howard was having one of his best seasons of his career. He’s 16-7-7 record in 32 games while ranking fourth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.11) and tied for 11th in save percentage (.920).

Mrazek is the Wings’ goalie of the future.

“He’s a good goaltender, he plays the puck well and he’ll win games for us,” Babcock said.

This season he’s 5-3-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.

“For being a young guy he plays with a lot of confidence,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “I like the way he wants to stay in the game, he wants to play the puck for us. He looks confident doing that and that makes us confident about him.

“I think he’s been making some really nice plays, better passes than the D sometimes,” Ericsson continued. “He’s making big saves for us. I feel like he’s comfortable and confident back there. That’s everything about today’s game.”

Mrazek has played 20 career NHL games, with a 8-8-3 record.

“When I played three games in a row before Christmas, I felt great,” Mrazek said. “Always when you can play lots of games in a row, it helps you get confidence and you’re going get into the game. But it’s not nice to see Howie hurt.”

Because Jonas Gustavsson is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in November, the Wings recalled Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids. McCollum is 10-8-1 this season with the Griffins with a 2.33 GAA and .911 save percentage in 21 games.

Howard placed on injured reserve; Mrazek elevated to No. 1 goalie

DETROIT >> For the time being, this is Petr Mrazek’s team.

Mrazek has been elevated to the Wings’ No. 1 goalie after the team placed Jimmy Howard on injured reserve with a groin injury.

“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re going to have to get him settled down a little bit. There’s a point where he challenges and then over-challenges. We’ve got to get that under control. We should have no trouble with that.”

It’s still not known the extent of Howard’s injury.

He was scheduled to have an MRI Sunday afternoon.

Howard, who had just been named to the 2015 All-Star Game, was injured Saturday night after he gave the puck away behind the net and then lunged his left leg backwards to try and reach the post before Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored just 1:53 into the first period.

He was taken from the ice on a stretcher.

Howard was having one of his best seasons of his career. He’s 16-7-7 record in 32 games while ranking fourth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.11) and tied for 11th in save percentage (.920).

Mrazek is the Wings’ goalie of the future.

“He’s a good goaltender, he plays the puck well and he’ll win games for us,” Babcock said.

This season Mrazek’s 5-3-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.

“For being a young guy he plays with a lot of confidence,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “I like the way he wants to stay in the game, he wants to play the puck for us. He looks confident doing that and that makes us confident about him.

“I think he’s been making some really nice plays, better passes than the D sometimes,” Ericsson continued. “He’s making big saves for us. I feel like he’s comfortable and confident back there. That’s everything about today’s game.”

Mrazek has played 20 career NHL games, with a 8-8-3 record.

“When I played three games in a row before Christmas, I felt great,” Mrazek said. “Always when you can play lots of games in a row, it helps you get confidence and you’re going get into the game. But it’s not nice to see Howie hurt.”

Because Jonas Gustavsson is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in November, the Wings recalled Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids.

McCollum is 10-8-1 this season with the Griffins with a 2.33 GAA and .911 save percentage in 21 games.

Howard selected as Wings’ lone All-Star

DETROIT >> Jimmy Howard was named to the 2015 NHL All Star Game, which will take place January 25 in Columbus.

It’s Howard’s second time as an All Star.

He last appeared in the 2012 game.

Howard started the game and gave up three goals on 14 shots.

The 2012 game was the first time the league had a “fantasy draft” to choose teams.

Howard was selected by Zdeno Chara and not Daniel Alfredsson, who at the time was with the Ottawa Senators.

According to Wings GM Ken Holland, Tomas Jurco could be out through All Star break; Kindl improving

TAYLOR >> Tomas Jurco (back) and Johan Franzen didn’t practice Friday.

Wings general manager Ken Holland said that Jurco is out at least a week and could possibly be shut down until after the All Star break.

“He’s got a back issue, a little bit of a disc issue,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’ll be shut down for a bit, hopefully for not long.”

Babcock had no update on Franzen, who was placed on short-term injured reserve.

Jakub Kindl practiced and said his elbow is getting better.

“It’s in a bad spot where if I get caught out there, I don’t want to get it worse,” Kindl said. “It’s just got to heal properly.

“I can skate finally, I can shoot finally,” Kindl added. “I’m just trying to get into contact more and more but obviously I’m trying to be careful. I don’t want to jam it or twist it again.”