Slumping Tomas Jurco's status uncertain with Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Maybe playing with a star will spur Tomas Jurco's offense.

Then again, Jurco has to actually play to get his offense going. And that was the question Wednesday.

Practicing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader just might be what Jurco needs to snap his slump — he's scoreless in 12 games for the Red Wings.

But last week he was a healthy scratch, and with a roster spot needed when Stephen Weiss (groin) comes off the injured list this week, Jurco could be the odd man out come Friday against the Blackhawks.

Weiss was in a gray jersey — gray usually meaning not likely to be in the lineup — with Daniel Cleary and Andrej Nestrasil during practice. There's a chance Weiss could go to Grand Rapids for conditioning.

Still, Jurco didn't want to play a guessing game about his status.

"It was a great practice, and good for me to get back in the lineup; hopefully it'll stay like this until Friday," Jurco said. "I don't know if I'll be playing, but it looks like I will, and it'll be a good chance for me to get back into it."

With minor league options remaining, however, a stay in Grand Rapids may not be the worst thing for Jurco.

"I don't think about what could happen," Jurco said. "I just try to work hard and stay focused, maybe gain a little more confidence back."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday the reason Jurco was scratched wasn't for his play but because the team needed a change.

"(Jurco's) last two games were two of his better games," Babcock said. "I haven't decided on what we're going to do. He had a good practice today, has an opportunity (today), and we'll decide who is in the lineup."

Ice chips

Having a day off Tuesday seemed to agree with the Red Wings, who had an energized practice.

"Guys kind of got refreshed and rejuvenated, and it was just a real good practice," Abdelkader said. "Guys were energized, we did some battle drills, and we just realize what is at hand.

"We haven't played the way we're capable of or the way we've wanted the last three, four, five games. We have to get better."

Babcock believes the break "gives us a chance to get some work in and freshen up. We didn't like our game as much this last little bit, and we think we can be better."

... The other lines Wednesday were: Henrik Zetterberg between Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen, Riley Sheahan centering Tomas Tatar and Darren Helm, and Luke Glendening between Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson.

... Top prospect Anthony Mantha (fractured right tibia) will make his pro debut Friday in Grand Rapids. Mantha has been out two months with a fractured right tibia, suffered in the prospects tournament in September.

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