Defenseman Marchenko falls back out of Red Wings lineup

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Glendale, Ariz. — After the Red Wings decided to waive Jakub Kindl, effectively declaring Alexey Marchenko one of the seven defensemen on their roster, they played all of them in the game against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

When coach Jeff Blashill decided to go with six defensemen and 12 forwards against the Coyotes, it led to another decision.

For the Arizona game, at least, Marchenko, whose fine play through the first half of the season cemented his place on the roster, is out of the lineup.

Blashill said he likes the pairings: Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green and Brendan Smith.

“Nobody played, certainly, where they should come out,” Blashill said, of the seven performances against the Kings. “We looked at numbers of factors

“We certainly feel comfortable putting Alexey in. That might be the case the next game.”

Among the factors are on-ice performance, how the pairings blend over time and some statistical analysis of their play.

Much movement has occurred this season on the back end, four seasons after the departure of Niklas Lidstrom, with the major offseason signing of Green, the solidification of Smith’s play and Marchenko’s arrival.

Blashill continues to adjust.

“I look for the right chemistry on pairings,” he said. “I’ve never been someone that’s felt you need a stay at home with an offensive guy. In fact, I think that sometimes that can be to the detriment.”

Referring to the more offensive-minded pairing of Green and Smith, he said, “So you have two guys that I would say are really good passers, whereas sometimes you get a defensive guy who doesn’t pass as well, so they don’t think on the same offensive wavelength.

“We’re looking for more offense from our defensemen, anyway.”

Andersson challenged

Joakim Andersson’s role as a defensive forward has expanded, with the loss of Drew Miller through part of February.

The penalty kill has suffered without Miller in the lineup.

Andersson’s faceoffs can be a concern, although at times he has done well in the circles. But his overall play as a penalty killer is good, and the Red Wings hope that, like the rest of the forwards who kill off penalties, it improves with the loss of Miller.

“We need everyone on the penalty kill,” Blashill said.

For Andersson, who has been a healthy scratch for some stretches, it is a welcomed challenge.

“They’re a good team and they’re hot, right now,” said the 26 year-old forward, who was the 88th pick in the 2007 draft.

“I want to have a big role on the penalty kill. Millsie is a great penalty killer, but we have the personnel to be really good without him,” Andersson said.

He said the task “is a lot about positioning and reading the play.”

Abdelkader makes good

As Justin Abdelkader grew up, education was stressed in his home in the Muskegon area.

His father and sister are educators, and he said his mom made him promise to get his degree from Michigan State if he was going to leave for a pro career before graduation.

It has all worked out. Not only did the Red Wings get a physical forward, who has developed into one of their top scorers, Abdelkader got his degree this year.

His reading program, “Abby’s All Stars,” is already in place, and he is taking the opportunity to participate in the NHL & NHLPA Future Goals Program, designed to help middle school students in science, technology, engineering and math.

Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall will visit the Upton Elementary School in Royal Oak on Tuesday to introduce it and work with students.

“I think it’s (encouraging education) really important to me now,” he said.

“The NHL, NHLPA program is going to be important for the kids, not only to learn about geometry or some science, but to also learn about hockey, whether it’s the (design and function of the) sticks, or analytics or whatever it is.”

gregg.krupa@detroitnews.com

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