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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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59