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A battle is brewing

Salei, Kindl fight for final defensive spot on Wings' roster

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 1:47 PM ET / News
By Jeff Sanford  - DetroitRedWings.com Intern
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A battle is brewing
DETROIT – As the battle for playoff seeding culminates in the Western Conference, another battle is brewing in the Red Wings’ locker room.

Jakub Kindl and Ruslan Salei
Defensemen Jakub Kindl and Ruslan Salei are in the midst of a fight for playing time, with each trying to secure that sixth and final spot on the Wings’ blue line as the team readies for its 20th straight appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Salei will be a healthy scratch tonight as Detroit hosts the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena. Kindl, who was scratched Monday in Detroit’s overtime loss to the Blackhawks, will play tonight.

As of late, the two defensemen have been rotating in the sixth spot. But after Wednesday’s morning skate, Wings coach Mike Babcock expressed his desire to end the rotation and solidify the lineup.

“I don’t want to rotate them,” he said. “I want someone to take the job. It’s up for grabs, and somebody better grab it.”

For now, it’s still unclear who will step up – between the 14-year veteran and the rookie – and snatch the spot.

“They know, and let’s just see,” Babcock said. “It’s a situation where we want to win each and every night, and we want to give ourselves the best chance to be successful in the playoffs. They’re both different types of players. You bring what you bring.”

For Salei, winning the position battle is about sticking to what he knows best.

“Just play my game,” a clearly frustrated Salei said. “I’ve been playing the whole year, and now that (Babcock) feels like we have to fight for it, so I guess I have to fight for it.”

Salei missed three games in mid-March to be with his wife as she gave birth to the couple’s third child. The missed time could be a reason why he finds himself in a less-than-secure spot on the Wings’ bench.

“Well, I got some time off with my newborn and I guess it had a little effect on my game,” he said. “And I am where I am right now. I think that I missed the practice time most of all.”

The other scratches for tonight’s game are Pavel Datsyuk (lower body injury) and Kris Draper. Also sitting out is goalie Jimmy Howard, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in last Saturday’s win over the Maple Leafs. However, Howard did say he expected to play this Saturday at Nashville.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 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 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 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