Jurco shows flashes of brilliance Red Wings counting on

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It was one play that symbolizes why the Red Wings remain patient with forward Tomas Jurco.

His goal Saturday against Anaheim, off a 3-on-2 rush where Jurco’s speed, hands and goal-scoring ability came into play, got heavy rotation on sports highlight shows all weekend.

He had a strong overall game Friday in Buffalo. Then Saturday, Jurco scored a goal and again was one of the more effective all-around Red Wings.

His task now is to continue building on this small sample size of success.

“I just got to keep playing like I’m playing right now,” said Jurco, whose goal Saturday was only his second of the season in 25 games. “Just skate hard, work hard and it’s going to come. I’m close to how I want to play.”

A second-round draft pick in 2011, Jurco, 23, has tantalized with his speed and size (6-foot-1, 203 pounds) but hasn’t been able to do it on a regular basis.

Not being a regular in the lineup has been one issue, but his own inconsistency also has been a factor.

But coach Jeff Blashill is hoping this recent positive streak by Jurco is a sign of things to come.

“He was great (Friday), he did a real good job, and (Saturady) he did a real good job,” Blashill said. “He, to me, was one of the bright spots. He was on pucks, he created stuff, so he was definitely a bright spot.”

Blashill listed the good things he was seeing from Jurco.

“He’s on the puck on the forecheck, on the puck on the track and he seems to be gaining confidence with the puck,” Blashill said. “He can make plays, he can shoot the puck, he’s got a lot of offensive skill.

“He seems to be gaining confidence in that area.”

Confidence is one area where Jurco is beginning to grow.

“I couldn’t score before this, but it finally went in,” said Jurco, who ended a 17-game goal-scoring drought. “So just being on the puck a little more, that’s the main thing for me.

“I wanted to score for a while. I want to score every game but it’s hard. It helps me a lot, I feel much better.”

Personnel move

The Red Wings assigned forward Joakim Andersson to Grand Rapids Sunday and brought up forward Eric Tangradi and defenseman Nick Jensen.

Andersson was waived Friday but went unclaimed by another team.

Andersson had one goal and two assists in 26 games, with a plus-1 rating.

Tangradi was recalled from the Griffins earlier this season but has yet to appear in a game.

Tangradi, 26, leads the Griffins with 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 36 games. The 16 goals are tied for fifth-most in the American League.

In 143 NHL games with Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Montreal, Tangradi has five goals and 10 assists.

Jensen, 25, a 6-foot, 195-pound fifth-round draft pick in 2009 for the Red Wings, will be making his first appearance in the NHL.

Jensen has spent the last three seasons with the Griffins. This season, he has eight points (two goals, six assists) in 39 games.

Jensen could see himself in the lineup Monday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders if defenseman Brendan Smith can’t play.

Smith missed the final three minutes of Saturday’s game after being boarded by Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell.

Ice chips

Goaltender Jimmy Howard earned the start Saturday against Anaheim but was victimized by some sloppy mistakes in front of him.

Blashill said Howard was “hung out to dry.”

Howard has spent much time working with goaltending coach Jim Bedard in the last month since Petr Mrazek has taken over the workload.

“I was just trying to play the way I practice,” Howard said. “I’ve been practicing really, really hard with Jim, staying out (late) and doing what I know.

“Hopefully it’ll pay off sooner rather than later.”

…The Red Wings are 1-5-2 in their last eight games at Joe Louis Arena and haven’t won in five consecutive decisions (0-4-1).

“It’s more a day-to-day correction in trying to get better,” Blashill said. “It’s not like those eight games have been in a row, so I’m not sure what that is (the losing streak). But I know in this particular case (Saturday’s loss) we didn’t play well enough to win and the next game we play in New York, we better play better.”



Red Wings at Islanders

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Monday, Barclays Center, New York

TV/radio: FSD/WXYT

Outlook: The Islanders (25-15-6, 56 points) enjoyed a snow day Saturday — their game in Brooklyn was canceled by the epic storm. ... LW Brock Nelson (18 goals) and RW Kyle Okposo (36 points) are leaders offensively on a rapidly maturing team.