Babcock looks forward to scrimmage

Red-White game to simulate game day environment

Monday, 01.14.2013 / 4:48 PM
Bill Roose  -

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – The Red Wings and their AHL-affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins, will hold a Red-White scrimmage on Tuesday night, which is free to the public, at 3,500-seat at Compuware Arena in suburban Detroit.

The scrimmage will feature 38 players – that’s 19 on each squad – from the parent club as well as minor-leaguers, who have played this season in the American Hockey League.

Notable players absent from the preliminary rosters include centers Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm (back) and forward Mikael Samuelsson (groin). Datsyuk is expected to be back in Detroit on Tuesday after spending the NHL lockout in Russia, where he played in the KHL.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the idea of the scrimmage is to duplicate a game day environment.

“We’re going to skate in the morning and practice at night, so we’re doing it right, body clock-wise and we understand what it takes,” Babcock said. “I get a chance to watch them play, so that’s a good thing. I’m not going to be on the bench, so it’s not going to help me that way, but the other coaches will, so they’ll get a chance to be around the players and I think that’s a positive thing for them.”

As for Datsyuk’s availability in the scrimmage, Babcock said, “That’s a Pavel decision and when he gets back, depending on how he’s feeling he doesn’t have to get off the plane and do anything. The fans would love to see him, obviously. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Because the Red Wings enter the shortened season not as deep as they’d like to be on the blue line, Babcock hopes to see someone seize some of the ice-time that’s availability the departure of both Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart to this year’s roster.

“Each year, your younger people if they don’t take huge steps you can’t continue,” Babcock said. “We’ve been real fortunate that way. We’ve had great progress. We think (Brendan) Smith can take a chunk. We think (Jonathan) Ericsson can take a big chunk. We think (Niklas) Kronwall the same thing. (Kyle) Quincey when he arrived last year he came at a time when we all got hurt, but his groin and back weren’t as good. He looks great right now. He’s skating real well and we need him to take a chunk.”

As for defensive depth in Grand Rapids, Babcock singled-out one individual.

“Nathan Paetsch is an American League contract, but we can always look after that,” Babcock said. “He’s played a lot of games in the NHL. We’re not as considered with that right there. In this league you’re going to go through bodies and we understand all of that. There’s a big opportunity right here for (Ian) White and (Carlo) Colaiacovo and Smith and (Jakub) Kindl and these guys to grab a huge chunk.”

The 29-year-old Paetsch has played in 167 games with Buffalo and Columbus. His best NHL season came in 2006-07 when he produced two goals and 22 assists with a plus-10 rating with the Sabres. This season, Paetsch has 17 points, is a plus-3 and has stayed out of the penalty box, collecting just three minor penalties in 31 games.

Here are the rosters for Tuesday’s Red-White game at Compuware Arena.

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