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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  - 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.


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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