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Weiss eager to play, but understands need for caution

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Stephen Weiss wants to play games, not necessarily practice, practice, and practice some more.

But at this time, that appears to be the route Weiss will go before he re-enters the Red Wings lineup.

Weiss, returning from a groin injury (and before that a sports hernia surgery), will continue to practice with the Red Wings through next week before joining minor league affiliate Grand Rapids for a game next weekend.

The plan is for Weiss to play with the Red Wings after that stint with the Griffins.

"I want to play games," said Weiss, whose groin flared up Oct. 29 during a game in Grand Rapids while on a conditioning assignment. "To be honest I'm sick of practicing, but at the same time you have to be smart about it. I've only had three practices (this week) and been off quite a long time, so I have to make sure the conditioning is up to par and that you're not out there just to be out there and you're ready to go."

Hernia surgery limited Weiss to only 26 games last season and the start to this season has been a grind, thanks to the groin injury.

Coach Mike Babcock said earlier this week it's important Weiss is healthy when he returns, and ready to rejoin the lineup.

Weiss believes taking a little more time practicing will help.

"A few more paces, some extra skating at the end of practice, that will make a big difference," Weiss said.

Jurco returns

Tomas Jurco rejoined the lineup Friday against the Blackhawks after being a healthy scratch for three games.

"He's a big, strong, young kid who can really skate, good with the puck," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We expect him to go out there and play with confidence and play hard.

"He was playing well in the last few games before we sat him out. He's had three games to sit around and watch and decide how bad he wants to play. ... We need him to be good."

Jurco does not have a goal in 13 games. He had two shots and two hits in almost 11 minutes of ice time Friday.

Andrej Nestrasil and Daniel Cleary were healthy scratches.

Lineup shuffling

Pavel Datsyuk (groin) rejoined the lineup after missing two games, and Babcock is interested to see how he reacts.

"He was playing great when he left and anytime you get leg or groin injuries, it's not like a shoulder (separation he suffered during camp)," Babcock said. "Abby (Justin Abdelkader) and him seem to play well together, so we put Jurco there to give them some speed."

… Babcock, on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews: "He's the conscience of the Blackhawks. He does it right every single day. He's determined and he helps you win."

…The Red Wings brought up goaltender Petr Mrazek and sent down goaltender Tom McCollum.

…The victory was the Red Wings' first regulation win against Chicago in 12 games.

…Chicago coach Joel Quenneville benched forward Kris Versteeg the remainder of the first period after Versteeg turned the puck over leading to Luke Glendening's goal to open the scoring.

…Brendan Smith was a late addition to the lineup because of what Babcock said was a pregame soccer injury warming up. But Smith was obviously fine enough to play over 21 minutes and scored an empty-net goal.

Red Wings vs. Blackhawks

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD.97.1

Outlook: Chicago has the best penalty kill in the NHL (91.7 percent) and the Red Wings are second (88.7 percent). … G Corey Crawford ranks among the league leaders in goals-against average (1.76) and save percentage (.931).