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Tatar gets his chance

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 1:08 PM ET
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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Tomas Tatar makes his season debut with the Red Wings tonight against Nashville, filling in for Henrik Zetterberg, who is nursing a lower-body injury. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
Tomas Tatar helped ring in 2011 by scoring his first NHL goal in his first NHL game on New Year’s Eve.

Now, nearly 14 months later, the 21-year-old Czechoslovakian forward will have his second chance at the NHL when he makes his season debut for the Red Wings tonight against the Nashville Predators.

Tatar was recalled from Grand Rapids on Thursday shortly after the team declared that Henrik Zetterberg (lower-body) and Danny Cleary (knee) would sit out Friday’s contest.

Meanwhile, Tatar has had an outstanding season in Grand Rapids, eating up minutes in virtually every situation, including penalty kill and power play.

“He played well and he played hard for us. He's a threat at the American League level,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “When you come up here, you're on the fourth line, you've got to be good defensively, you've got to take care of the puck, you've got to get yourself in on the forecheck and hang on to the puck in the offensive zone. You do those things, we like you.”

Tatar will skate on the Wings’ fourth line with fellow rookies Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak. Forward Tomas Holmstrom is usually paired on the fourth line, but against the Predators, he’ll skate with Drew Miller and Darren Helm.

The Wings will be gunning for their 22nd straight home win tonight, extending their league-best home winning streak, which they set with Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Dallas.

For Tatar, the streak adds some pressure to his first league game of the season.

“I'm going to try my best, hit somebody, bring some energy, but for the game, there's other guys to make the game difference, not me,” he said. “It would be nice to continue on the streak. It would be nice for me to be part of this, a new NHL record. I'm going to try my best to help the guys win the game.”
 
In just his second pro season, Tatar has compiled 89 points with a plus-22 rating in 128 games. Because he turned pro at such an early age, he still has two full-seasons of eligibility in Grand Rapids before he runs out of options.

“My draft year was guys like Landon Ferraro, and they just got to Grand Rapids,” Tatar said. “This is my third year there. This should actually be my first year pro, if I didn't come so early. I'm still young. It's not like I have to be rushing something. I still have lots of years to develop and get better, and hopefully one day, I can be part of this team for a whole season.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89