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Kids games keep Wings' Jurco grounded

Red Wings' rookie calms his game-day nerves by playing games on iPad

Friday, 04.18.2014 / 1:01 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Kids games keep Wings\' Jurco grounded

Red Wings rookie Tomas Jurco finished with eight goals and 15 points in 36 regular-season games. (Photo by Getty Images)

BOSTON – For someone who’s making his Stanley Cup playoff debut tonight, Red Wings rookie Tomas Jurco plans to keep his mind off of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins by playing a different kind of game.

“Actually it’s funny because my friend is laughing at me all the time,” Jurco said following the Red Wings’ morning skate at TD Garden. “He came from Slovakia and he didn’t know I played so much games, and yesterday we were laughing about that. I always play like little kids game on my iPad. I don’t know, just a bunch of games just to relax a little bit and think of something else.”

Jurco plans to head back to the team hotel where he’ll grab a bite to eat before he settles into his room with his tablet before he dozes off for an afternoon nap.

Like many professional athletes, Jurco’s routine is meant to keep his mind off the game so he can be fresh once the puck drops.

“It’s lots of hockey here and it’s always good to take your mind for something else,” Jurco said. “Then you’re going to be more prepared for hockey, you’re going to be more excited to go back to hockey so I always like to play some games just to think of something else.”

Ever since he was called up in mid-December from Grand Rapids, Jurco has been a tremendous contributor for the Red Wings. For most of the time he worked perfectly on the Kid Line with center Riley Sheahan and fellow Slovakian Tomas Tatar.

But lately, coach Mike Babcock has moved Jurco to the third line where he can utilize his speed and strength alongside with center Darren Helm and veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson.

Jurco is among four Wings’ rookies who will make their Stanley Cup playoff debuts tonight. Sheahan, Tatar and Luke Glendening are the others. All three were part of the Griffins’ Calder Cup championship run last spring, so they at least have some playoff experience at the pro level.

“The kids have played in the Calder Cup, it’s playoff hockey,” Babcock said. “I’m not concerned about them one bit. They know you have to battle for every inch of the ice. As much as it was a playoff battle for us over the last 20 games it wasn’t like that for the other team so it’s now like the playoffs for that team too and they’re going to compete.”

Jurco knows this series will be like no other series that he’s ever played in.

“It helped me a little bit for sure just to compete with men in the playoffs,” Jurco said. “Before I only played in the playoffs in juniors so it for sure helped me a little bit but this is a little different. … I expect it’s going to be more physical, more emotional, it’s going to be tough games, each game, each minute of the game will be really hard so it’s going to be a little different than the regular season but it’s still the same league so I can’t be afraid of something. Just gotta play like I played before.”

Game 1 will also be emotional for Sheahan, who will make his NHL postseason debut after playing in 44 regular-season games over the past three seasons.

“I’m sure it will be a little different once the game starts,” said Sheahan, who has a goal in each of the past three games. “It will be fun and we’re looking forward to the opportunity we have and we’re just going to embrace it. First game is going to be huge. We’re going to have to come out strong and come out physical.”

GAME 1 LINE COMBOS: The Red Wings used the same forward lines in Friday’s morning skate as they did in Thursday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard will get his 43rd career postseason start. He has a 20-22 record with a 2.57 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Game 1’s projected line combinations and defensive pairings for the Red Wings and Bruins appear to be the following:

DETROIT LINES

Johan Franzen – Pavel Datsyuk – Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Gustav Nyquist

Tomas Jurco – Darren Helm – Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller – Luke Glendening – David Legwand

DETROIT D-PAIRINGS

Niklas Kronwall – Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey – Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff – Jukab Kindl

BOSTON LINES

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith

Carl Soderberg – Chris Kelly – Loui Eriksson

Jordan Caron – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

BOSTON D-PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara – Dougie Hamilton

Andrej Meszaros – Johnny Boychuk

Torey Krug – Kevan Miller

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89