Brad Richards out vs. Sabres with death of grandfather

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Brad Richards

Detroit – Maybe simply pulling names from a hat will be next.

You figure coach Jeff Blashill will do anything to jumpstart this sluggish Red Wings offense.

Thursday’s practice debuted some new lines, although that was partly due to personnel issues.

Brad Richards will miss Friday’s game in Buffalo because of the death of his grandfather. Richards is expected to return for Saturday’s game against Anaheim.

The Red Wings still aren’t entirely sure about the status of Tomas Tatar, who practiced Thursday but missed the previous night’s game because of illness.

Blashill said Tatar still wasn’t feeling 100 percent, although was expected to play against the Sabres.

Regardless, Blashill had some new looks, with Pavel Datsyuk centering Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist, while Henrik Zetterberg was between Justin Abdelkader and Dylan Larkin, a line that was very effective earlier this season.

Nyquist has primarily played with Zetterberg, so playing with Datsyuk is a new twist.

“They’re similar, both great players,” Nyquist said. “You want them to have the puck as much as possible. Playing with them, you try and get open because you have to be ready for a pass. It can come at any time.”

Riley Sheahan was between Tatar and Tomas Jurco, while Luke Glendening centered the fourth line between Joakim Andersson and Teemu Pulkkinen.

“When you’re not scoring you have to keep looking for answers,” Blashill said.

The Red Wings felt they played well enough against St. Louis in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss that goals will be coming soon. The Red Wings outshot the Blues 30-20.

“We have a group in here that’s been around, they understand process and how important it is,” Blashill said. “They police themselves that way. We’ve got a young team but great veteran leadership.

“We played a good game (Wednesday). We have to find a way to score a little bit more. Let’s just keep plugging away and keep getting better at it.”

Ice chips

Goaltender Petr Mrazek will get the start against Buffalo, Mrazek’s fourth consecutive start and ninth in the last 10 games.

It could be assumed Jimmy Howard will start Saturday against Anaheim, although Blashill wouldn’t commit to a starter for that game yet.

... Brendan Smith (soreness) didn’t practice Thursday but Blashill expects Smith to play against the Sabres.

Red Wings at Sabres

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Friday, First Niagara Center

TV / radio: FSD / 97.1 FM, 1270 AM

Outlook: The Sabres (19-24-4, 42 points) are coming off a 2-1 loss in Colorado. ... C Ryan O’Reilly (17 goals, 40 points) is leading in scoring, with rookie C Jack Eichel (14 goals, 30 points) coming on lately.