Tag Archives: Grand Rapids

Blashill: “Jurcs is one of those guys that’s in a spot and he knows it”

Tomas Jurco has officially been put on notice.tomas-jurco-producing-for-red-wings-d3a36ee5d93990d0

“Jurcs is one of those guys that’s in a spot and he knows it,” Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after the second day of training camp in Traverse City. “He’s had an opportunity to play up here for a year and a half, basically.

“When he left us in Grand Rapids, my second year, he was a point per game in the league,” Blashill continued. “He was starting to evolve into a real go-to player. I think the first couple of years he survived and I think he’d like to take that next step. But in order to do that, he has to earn that ice time. He knows that.”

Blashill appears to be giving Jurco ample opportunity to show if he’s an NHL player or not, slotting him on a line with Brad Richards and Tomas Tatar after Darren Helm was injured on Friday.

“For now, then probably (Sunday) and maybe the red and white game,” Blashill said when asked if that’s where he plans to keep Jurco.

Jurco struggled mightily last season in Detroit.

Despite playing in 27 more regular season games than he did his first season, he scored five fewer goals. Jurco had three goals and 15 assists last season, compared to eight goals and seven assists in the 2013-14 campaign.

While in Grand Rapids, Juro had 27 goals and 47 assists in 106 games over two seasons.

“He’s got real good speed,” Blashill said. “He’s got a good skill set. He’s got size. So those are three real good assets. I hope he can continue and play like he did (Saturday).”

Blashill took over behind the bench for Mike Babcock, who had coached the Wings for the past 10 season.

“Providing more offense is the main thing for me,” Jurco said in the days leading up to training camp. “I’ve been working hard all summer, to get stronger, faster, so I think it’s going to help me.

“I think (confidence) was one of the biggest factors for me,” Jurco added. “It was hard for me to not be scoring as much as I was used to before and not playing as much, so of course when you do that for a few months it’s hard to keep your confidence high. Of course it was one of the factors, but it’s a new season and I’m ready for it.”

Jurco, who missed eight games last season with a back injury, went 39 games without a goal a year ago.

Despite his struggles he was only a healthy scratch in five games with Babcock, who used Jurco more in a grinding role.

“I think Blash knows what kind of player I was before,” Jurco said. “He had a chance to see it, so he knows I can be a different player, too. I’m not saying he’s going to put me on the power play and expects me to score 30 goals, but I think he wants me to work hard and work my way up to maybe first three lines so I can provide offense. It’s going to be up to me. Just the good thing is Blash knows I can do it.”

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Wings coach Mike Babcock on Teemu Pulkkinen: “Hopefully he shoots it every time he touches it.”

TAYLOR >> Teemu Pulkkinen is known for one thing … his shot.

“It’s amazing,” Riley Sheahan said of Pulkkinen’s shot. “It’s almost like every time he shoots the puck it’s either going in or the goalie’s not going to know where it’s going and it’ll hit off him and create another scoring chance. It’s hard. It’s accurate. He gets it’s off pretty quick. Not many guys have a shot like him.”

Sheahan will center a line with Pulkkinen and Drew Miller on Saturday at Washington.

“Hopefully he shoots it every time he touches it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Friday after the team finished practice at the Taylor Sportsplex.

Pulkkinen, who was recalled from Grand Rapids after the Wings placed Johan Franzen on short-term injured reserve, leads the AHL in scoring with 20 goals and is tied for second with 39 points.

On Wednesday, he equaled a Griffins franchise record with a goal that extended his goal scoring streak to eight consecutive games. The mark was set by Donald MacLean in the 2005-06 season.

“Obviously he has a real good shot,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “But also he’s good at finding the open ice to be able to receive passes. He doesn’t need much.

“It’s almost like Brett Hull in a way,” Zetterberg added. “He doesn’t need a lot of room to get a shot off. It’s going to be interesting to see what he can do. Obviously he’s done a real good job down in Grand Rapids and looking forward to having him around with us.”

“I’ve heard them,” Pulkkinen laughed nervously when asked about the comparisons with Hull. “Since I was a little kid I had fun with my friends going out to shoot pucks, play different games. I enjoy shooting and I’ve been practicing that since I was a little kid.”

Pulkkinen was also see time on the Wings’ second power play unit.

“Play a good two-way game and they want me to shoot,” Pulkkinen said when asked what’s expected of him. “Of course I want to score goals and I’m feeling good right now. If I get the chance to shoot I will shoot for sure.”

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.

“He just didn’t earn a spot,” Babcock said of Pulkkinen. “I’m just in the winning business. Can you help us or not.

“All players think they need more ice time to play better,” Babcock continued. “Coach thinks play better and you get more ice time.”

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

“It’s like the guys have played here so many years and they’ve been around and scored so many goals,” Pulkkinen said when asked if it was tough not to give the puck to established NHL players to shoot. “I haven’t scored any goals. So of course you sometimes think ‘Should I shoot or pass to the guys.’ I just try to shoot it and put it away and play your own game.”

Wings GM Ken Holland on Teemu Pulkkinen: “He’s got a weapon. His shot is his weapon.”

DETROIT >> Teemu Pulkkinen has been lighting up the American Hockey League this season.

Now he’ll get another chance to see what he can do against the best of the best.

The Wings recalled Pulkkinen from Grand Rapids after placing Johan Franzen on short-term injured reserve.

Pulkkinen leads the AHL in scoring with 20 goals and is tied for second with 39 points.

“I think the thing we like about Pulkkinen is he’s got a tremendous shot,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “He’s got a weapon. His shot is his weapon. He likes to use it and he seems like he knows how to get open.”

Pulkkinen equaled a Grand Rapids franchise record Wednesday with a goal to extend his goal scoring streak to eight consecutive games. The mark was set by Donald MacLean in the 2005-06 season.

“We felt he deserves to come up here,” Holland said. “Mike Babcock and I had been talking the last little while that if we had an opportunity along the way to see what he could do we would. He certainly deserves to be rewarded with an opportunity.”

Tomas Jurco is also sidelined with back spasms.

“It’s an opportunity for him,” Holland said. “He’ll play in Washington. He’ll be in the lineup. I’m not sure how much he’ll play, Mike Babcock will figure that out as they go.

“He’s been a talented offensive guy,” Holland continued.

Holland wasn’t sure what line Babcock would put Pulkkinen on, but one thing’s almost certain is he’ll play on the power play with his right-handed shot.

Pulkkinen played in three games last season with the Wings and didn’t register a point and had just four shots on goal.

“He had a real good rookie year last year with 31 goals,” Holland said. “He came to camp this year, played some preseason games and played pretty well. He’s picked up where he left off last year and continues to get better. Certainly we’re aware of how he’s doing there.”

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 a record for assists (36) by a rookie in the Finnish Elite League, breaking the mark set by Teemu Selanne.

“We’ll see what he can do,” Holland said.

Ouellet knows when he’s called up it’s not to sit and watch in the stands

DETROIT >> Defenseman Xavier Ouellet knows if he’s called up from Grand Rapids he won’t be watching the Wings game in the stands.

Ouellet is set to play in his 10th game tonight when the Wings host the New Jersey Devils.

“He’s a good player,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He knows how to play. He competes hard. Moves the puck, got good hockey sense. He’s been effective for us.”

Ouellet was recalled from the Griffins on Monday to take Jakub Kindl’s spot in the lineup. Kindl was placed on short-term injured reserve with a sprained elbow he suffered in practice Sunday.

“I’m still very excited every time I get called up,” Ouellet said. “That’s for sure. But I’m a little more used to it, that’s for sure, too. This is my 10th game here this year, so I feed good, I feel part of the guys. It’s easier and easier every time I get called back up.”

To put Ouellet’s season a bit more in perspective, defenseman Brian Lashoff has played in just 11 games this season.

“I know what’s coming and I just try to stay ready for it,” Ouellet said. “It feels good for sure. I don’t think they would call me up to put me in the stands. Every time they call me up I get ready to play and then they make their decisions. All I can do is play.”

In his previous nine games Ouellet has a goal, an assist and is a plus-3.

“He’s a good human being, great hockey player, he’s smart, he can make plays,” said Luke Glendening, who played with Ouellet in Grand Rapids. “He’s a good guy to have around for sure.”

Ouellet on his way back to Detroit; Babcock says he’ll be in the lineup Wednesday

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings will recall defenseman Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids after placing Jakub Kindl on short-term injured reserve.

Kindl suffered an elbow sprained elbow in practice Sunday. He skated on his own before practice testing it out and looked as if he was having difficulty shooting the puck.

Wings coach Mike Babcock said Ouellet will be in the lineup Wednesday against New Jersey.

Kindl didn’t play Monday in Boston.

That means Brian Lashoff will be a healthy scratch.

Ouellet, Mrazek sent to Grand Rapids; Datsyuk on IR; Nestrasil makes team for now

DETROIT >> Defenseman Xavier Ouellet will have to do what Gustav Nyquist did last season to make the Wings’ roster … wait for a call up.

Ouellet, along with goalie Petr Mrazek were assigned to Grand Rapids on Tuesday to help get the Wings to the 23-man roster limit prior to the 5 p.m. deadline.

Pavel Datsyuk was also placed on injured reserve, which allowed the team to keep Andrej Nestrasil on the roster for now.

“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked about the roster after practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “I think there are lots of players knocking on the door.

“I got my two cents in, so I get one vote,” Babcock continued. “He (Ken Holland) gets two. So he can win, 2-1. It’s almost exactly like that at home, I get one vote and my wife gets two, and I lose 2-1 lots.”

Babcock had Ouellet paired with Kyle Quincey for a second straight practice.

“I come to practice every day to get ready for Thursday so we’ll see what’s going to happen,” Ouellet said prior to finding out the news. “I do feel good. I think I’ve had a pretty good camp. I’ve played some good hockey. I’m really happy to be here right now. I’m going to enjoy it and try and have a little chemistry with Quincey here.”

Ouellet was battling for a spot on the roster with Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff, who are both on one-way contracts.

Ouellet, who doesn’t have to clear waivers to be sent down, finished tied for the team lead with two goals this preseason.

“For sure I’ll be disappointed (if I get sent down), but at the same time I’ve got to keep working,” Ouellet said. “I’ve got to keep doing my stuff. I’ll go down there and play hockey and do my best and get ready if they need me up here.”

Nyquist was a victim of being waiver-exempt when he was sent down last season, but due to a rash of injuries was called back up and finished the season in Detroit.

“You have to try not to under (the business side of things) actually,” Ouellet smiled. “You just have to go with the flow and see what happens. It’s a big business. There’s a lot of stuff as players that we don’t know. All you can control is your game and as players that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Nestrasil made the biggest leap from Monday’s practice, going from a gray jersey to white to skate alongside Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.

“I’m more than pleased,” Nestrasil said. “If you would have asked me a couple weeks before the camp I would tell you 99-percent they would send me down. I thought I was going to get two exhibition games and I ended up playing five. Camp was really and I’m glad to still be here.

“For me when I’m thinking about it either way is going to be good,” Nestrasil added before he knew he had made the roster. “I think I’ve done the most I could during camp. I did even better than I expected to do. If I stay here and play with the Red Wings or if I’m going to go down and play 20 minutes a game in Grand Rapids I’m still at the age where I’ve got to get my game better. I still have to get better every year. Either way is going to fine with me.”

Nestrasil would have to be placed on waivers and clear them before being assigned to Grand Rapids.

Babcock even had Nestrasil on the second power play unit with Tomas Jurco, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser.

“Yesterday I was on the gray line, today I was on a power play line, we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Nestrasil smiled. “If you try and find a sign you can find a sign in everything. If my sticks are on one side or the other it doesn’t change anything. We’ll see what happens these next couple of days and then see on Thursday if I’m going to play or not.”

Nestrasil, Ouellet survive another round of cuts; Wings’ roster at 26, needs to be down to 23 by 5 p.m. Tuesday

DETROIT >> Forward Andrej Nestrasil and defenseman Xavier Ouellet survived another round of cuts as the start of the NHL season approaches.

But the two promising Detroit Red Wing prospects haven’t locked up spots on the final roster just yet.

“We think he’s played the best out of all the kids,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said of Nestrasil. “Has Nestrasil knocked one of those other veteran forwards out of the box? That’s what we’re going to talk about.

“Ouellet has been the best of our young D, but he has to knock one of the seven out of the box,” Holland continued. “That’s what we still have to talk about.”

Detroit placed forwards Mitch Callahan, Landon Ferraro and Kevin Porter on waivers. All three have till noon on Monday to clear before they can be assigned to Grand Rapids.

The Wings, who open the season Thursday at home against the Boston Bruins, still have 26 players on their roster and need to get down to 23 by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’ve got three more players to make decisions on by Tuesday,” Holland said. “The story will play itself out.”

If Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) won’t be ready to open the season, Nestrasil could earn a spot on the roster. The team should know more Monday on Datsyuk’s status for the opener.

The Wings will carry 14 forwards into the regular season. They could also send Tomas Jurco to Grand Rapids since he doesn’t have to be placed on waivers, but coach Mike Babcock said last week he wanted him in Detroit.

If Ouellet, who also is waiver-exempt, stays he’ll have to play which means winning a job over Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff.

One of the roster moves that’ll likely be made is assigning goalie Petr Mrazek, who’s waiver-exempt, to Grand Rapids.

“These decisions are very difficult,” Holland said. “Some young players looked better the first week of the preseason and then had a tougher second week. It’s all about the caliber of competition and they didn’t play their way onto the roster. If they did they’d still be here.”

Callahan appeared to have won over the coaches during camp. He’s an abrasive player that posted his best offensive numbers (26 goals, 18 assists) with the Griffins last season.

The team also sent defensemen Alexey Marchenko and Nick Jensen to Grand Rapids, along with forwards Tomas Nosek and Teemu Pulkkinen.