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Abdelkader out; Jurco to make debut

Penguins' Engelland set to have league hearing for illegal hit on Wednesday

Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 4:07 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Abdelkader out; Jurco to make debut

The Red Wings drafted high-scoring Tomas Jurco in the second round in 2011. The 20-year-old winger will make his NHL debut against Tampa Bay tonight. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – With two minor-league forwards already up with the Red Wings, Saturday’s injury to Justin Abdelkader put the team’s roster deeper in despair.

Since Patrick Eaves and Luke Glendening were recalled last week and Gustav Nyquist was given permanent residence in the Wings’ locker room last month the talent pool to pick from in Grand Rapids is dwindling.

But in the end, the Wings decided on give an unproven rookie a look tonight, calling up Tomas Jurco, who will make his NHL debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Joe Louis Arena.

Jurco, the Wings’ second-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft, is a talented winger with endless upside. He currently leads the Griffins in goals (11), assists (16), points (27) and power-play goals (5). He’s tied for fifth in AHL scoring.

“Well, really it was between him and Riley Sheahan,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We already had up Glendening and he’s that kind of guy, so we looked for a different kind of guy.”

With injuries having decimated the forward lines, with Henrik Zetterberg (back), Stephen Weiss (groin), Darren Helm (shoulder) and Abdelkader (concussion) all sidelined, Jurco is expected to play on the Wings’ top line with center Pavel Datsyuk and winger Daniel Alfredsson.

Babcock admits he doesn’t know much about Jurco, however, Griffins coach Jeff Blashill has given his stamp of approval to the Red Wings.

“Personally, I don’t know him that good,” Babcock said. “Blash tells me he’s a very good player. Blash tells me he has a chance to be a good player. But you can do anything you want down there but you have to come up here and have confidence to do what you do.

“Lots of guys come here and you don’t see them. He’s playing a game here tonight against (Richard) Panick and (Ondrej) Palat, (Tyler) Johnson – that’s the (Syracuse) team you played against last year when they won the (Calder Cup) championship. Just play the game.”

As for Abdelkader, he will go through the league’s concussion protocol, but no timetable for his return has been established.

Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland will have an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday after being assessed a match penalty for his first-period hit on Abdelkader.

Engelland was offered the opportunity for an in-person hearing as required by provisions of the CBA for any suspension that can exceed five games.

Abdelkader was skating for a loose puck at center ice when he and Engelland collided near the red line. Engelland's shoulder appeared to strike Abdelkader's chin, and the Detroit forward had to be helped from the ice with 29.3 seconds remaining in the period.

As for Abdelkader’s likely return to the lineup anytime soon, Babcock said team trainers told him, “Don’t hold your breath.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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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 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80