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With Kyle Quincey hurt, Jakub Kindl returns

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Taylor — Jakub Kindl is returning from Grand Rapids a little earlier than anticipated.

The defenseman will join the Red Wings in time for Saturday's game in Dallas after Kyle Quincey came down with a lower body injury.

Quincey began Friday's practice at Taylor Sportsplex but left the ice shortly afterward and was walking gingerly after practice.

General manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock said Quincey is day to day.

"He left the ice early, we'll see," Babcock said. "He has a chronic thing. We'll just see what happens."

Kindl was loaned to Grand Rapids on a four-game conditioning assignment, and has one goal in two games.

Kindl last played with the Red Wings on December 27 against Ottawa. He hurt his elbow the next day in practice and has not played with the Red Wings since. In 28 games, Kindl has nine points (two goals, seven assists).

Young defensemen Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet both played well after being called up from Grand Rapids during the last two months with Kindl unavailable, and passed Kindl on the depth chart once he was cleared to play.

What does Babcock need to see out of Kindl?

"He has to go back and execute with the puck," Babcock said. "He's real good when he has the puck and working up the ice. He has to go back and execute with the puck. He does that, and we're (satisfied)."

Babcock felt it was crucial for Kindl to go and play in Grand Rapids and shake the rust off of not playing.

"Anybody who doesn't play for a long time (lacks confidence), so that's why we sent him down," Babcock said. "He played two real good games. It just makes it easier when you sat out for a long time, you come back and you've haven't played and it's hard. This way, you come back and get going."

Road warriors

This six-game road trip, which started Wednesday in Chicago, ends a two-month stretch in which the Red Wings have played 19 of 26 games away from Joe Louis Arena.

With Joe Louis Arena being used for the auto show, concerts and other functions during the interim, even when the Red Wings were home, they sometimes didn't practice at their home arena.

"We miss the Joe, we haven't been there a lot and even when we had practice days we've been practicing somewhere else," Henrik Zetterberg said. "We haven't seen the Joe a lot the last two months. This is the last road trip and then we have a good push a home the rest of the season. It'll be fun."

The Red Wings are 14-6-1 thus far during this two-month stretch, solidifying their hold on a playoff spot instead of losing grip on it which some analysts felt would happen.

"Sticking to the game plan," said Niklas Kronwall, of what the key has been to road success. "I know it's cliché, but it really is sticking to the game plan and doing the little things right. That's something we take pride in here, and for the most part it's worked pretty good.

"And let's face it, we've had excellent goaltending."

Ice chips

Babcock put a little more emphasis on competitive drills Friday, wanting a good, physical start unlike Wednesday's slow start in Chicago.

"We didn't like the way we started the game or our level of compete on pucks early in the game," Babcock said. "We talked about it and with the group we have here, when we address something it's usually taken care of."

... Dallas is on the outside of the playoff picture and needs wins desperately. Losing center Tyler Seguin (knee) for a month will not help matters.

"It's always exciting games, back-and-forth, high-scoring games against them," Zetterberg said. "They're playing well. They've lost Seguin but they're a good team and we just have to focus on what we do."

... The Red Wings will have limited practice time during this weeklong road trip, but Babcock thinks that'll be fine.

"They're tired of practicing," Babcock said. "Let's get out there and let's get playing."

Red Wings at Stars

Faceoff: 8 p.m., American Airlines Center, Dallas

TV/radio: FSD/97.1, 1270.

Records: Red Wings 32-14-10 (74 points); Stars 27-23-8 (62 points).

Outlook: The Red Wings won the first meeting between the teams, 5-2, on Dec. 4. … Dallas is 5-4-1 in its last 10 games. … Losing C Tyler Seguin (29 goals, 59 points) for a month with a knee injury is an offensive blow to the Stars.