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Wings’ Marchenko looks to seize opportunity

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Defenseman Alexey Marchenko knew there were reasons but it’s not like Marchenko embraced sitting out.

Marchenko was a healthy scratch the last two games — the odd man out, the seventh defensemen when only six are needed.

But Marchenko found out Tuesday he was back in the top six after Niklas Kronwall went down for up to the next month because of arthroscopic knee surgery.

Marchenko feels he could have done more to make the coaching staff’s decision that much more difficult.

“If you’re out of the lineup, you’re not good enough,” Marchenko said. “If you play great, it gives them no chance to take you out of the lineup. So, I have to improve my game more.”

But Marchenko’s performance hasn’t been an issue.

In 36 games, Marchenko has one goal and four assists, with a minus-1 rating while playing more than 16 minutes per game (16:15).

“He’s played real well when he was in,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

Marchenko simply fell victim to the numbers game when Kyle Quincey returned from ankle surgery Jan. 11, forcing one defenseman to sit.

“It’s up to the coaches, I can’t decide on that,” Marchenko said of who sits. “I can only decide on the ice what I can do. If they decide I’m out, I have to change it (the way) I play the game.”

Marchenko tried to get something out of the sitting and watching by analyzing the play on the ice from a different perspective.

“Sometimes it’s good to see the game from this side and see how it goes,” Marchenko said. “But, anyway, it’s better to play. The team was doing pretty good. Last game we played better than the other team but just had no luck.”

Kronwall out 2-4 weeks, Miller likely done for season

Line shuffling

In an effort to kick-start the Red Wings’ sluggish offense, Blashill shuffled lines for Tuesday’s practice.

Pavel Datsyuk was between Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar, while Riley Sheahan centered Brad Richards and Teemu Pulkkinen.

Henrik Zetterberg remained between Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist, but the fourth line had Luke Glendening centering Tomas Jurco and Darren Helm.

The Red Wings have scored two goals or fewer in five of the last six games. For the season, the Red Wings have scored two or fewer goals in 25 of the 45 games.

This latest line shuffling was another attempt by Blashill to find the right chemistry.

“It’s something we’ll look at it and see,” Blashill said. “We want to score just a little bit more. We think we’ve defended well. We’ve scored enough to win a good amount of games in the last little bit. But we’d like to score just a little bit more, just like everybody else.”

A new look

With Kronwall unavailable, there’s a good chance defenseman Brendan Smith will see time on the power play.

Smith was a fixture on the power play in the minor leagues and college at Wisconsin, but has played sparingly in the NHL.

He was looking forward to the opportunity after Tuesday’s practice.

“Once you get out there you have to be ready and prepared,” Smith said. “I know I can play. I’m excited about it, any opportunity like that is fun. If I get the chance, it would be cool.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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Blues at Red Wings

Faceoff: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit.

TV/radio: NBC Sports Network/97.1.

Outlook: The Blues (27-15-7, 61 points) have won two straight and trail the Chicago Blackhawks by five points in the Central Division. … The Blues have great special teams, ranked third on the penalty kill and eighth on the power play. … RW Vladimir Tarasenko leads with 25 goals.