Notes: Datsyuk, Jurco could be in Wings’ lineup Friday

During Wednesday's practice, Pavel Datsyuk skated on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Jurco.

Rick Osentoski

DETROIT — So far, things are looking pretty good for Pavel Datsyuk.

Datsyuk, who was a late scratch for last Friday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils because of a sore groin, practiced with the team both Monday and Wednesday.

But he wasn’t yet to the point where he said he’d definitely play this Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"(Thursday) is another skate and so far it feels good and we’ll see," Datsyuk said.

During Wednesday’s practice, Datsyuk skated on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Jurco.

Daniel Cleary, Stephen Weiss and Andrej Nestrasil wore gray jerseys in practice, a possible indication that Jurco could return to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 4 at Ottawa.

Jurco has been a healthy scratch the last three games.

"I haven’t decided on what we’re doing," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Even though, contrary to belief, is that I took him out because he wasn’t playing good, I took him out because I thought we needed a change. I thought his last two games were two of his better games. I thought he had a good practice (Wednesday), gets an opportunity for a good practice (Thursday) and then I get an opportunity to decide who’s in the lineup."

Jurco, who turns 22 Dec. 28, has just two assists in 12 games this season. He hasn’t scored a goal since April 9 at Pittsburgh.

Jurco said it’s been a little frustrating.

"It’s sport. It’s always like this, sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down," Jurco said. "So I didn’t have the best start. I think if I would have scored a couple goals, it’d be all different but unfortunately, none of those shots and chances went in for me. Right now it’s pretty slow start for me."

It might help spark Jurco if he does get to play with Datsyuk.

"He’s obviously one of the best players in the league — in the world, too," Jurco said. "Obviously it’s great and it’s a big opportunity for me to finally break that, maybe score some goals and just break that bad luck and just get going. It’s gonna be good chance for me."

Abdelkader knows that if you’re on the ice with Datsyuk, it always helps your luck.

"Pav just slows the game down so well," Abdelkader said. "He’s just really good with the puck and when you’re playing with him, he just makes everyone around him better. With Jurcs, for him he knows how he needs to play to be successful. He’s a really good skater, he gets up and down the ice real well. He’s a proven scorer wherever he’s been. 

"I know he’s struggled to score here at least at the start. I think as a young kid in this league, it’s a tough league and you can have success but once that success goes and maybe you go through a little rough stretch where maybe pucks aren’t going in or you’re not getting points like you want to, it’s going to be tough on your game."

Jurco was one of the players who scored during shootout practice Monday but said he doesn’t necessarily have a move ready to go.

"I went a couple times last year and I didn’t score," Jurco said. "I don’t know if I have some special moves. It all depends how do I feel after the game. I think it’s a little bit about that, too. If I felt great at the game, I have a little more confidence to do some move. If I feel like I didn’t have the best hands, I wouldn’t try anything really special."

WINGS USING BREAK TO ADVANTAGE

It’s unusual for a team to go four straight days without a game, but the Wings are trying to take advantage of it.

"Obviously it gives us a chance to do some work, it also gives the guys a chance to freshen up," Babcock said. "We didn’t like our game as much the last little bit. We think we can be better, so it gives us a real focal point here (Wednesday) and we did some work here on Monday when I was away, and we’ll have a good specialty teams day (Thursday) and get some tempo in and then we play a real good Blackhawks’ team."

One thing the Wings are concerned with is tightening up their defense.

In their first five games, the Wings allowed seven goals. In the next five games, they allowed 13. In the last five games, they allowed 14.

"I think just getting back to watching some video, looking at our segments, each segment as we go through the five-game stretches," Abdelkader said. "This last five games we haven’t been as good defensively as we need to be, given up too many goals. We know we need to improve and what we need to do, just getting back to our work habits and our structure that takes care of us."

The Wings also want to take advantage of their 17 home games in November and December as they only have four home games in January and two in February.

"I think these (first) 15 games have gone by really quick and I think we’ve gotten a good test from playing teams, whether it’s in the East or in the West, in our division, and we got to see where we stack up and how we need to play in order to be successful," Abdelkader said.