Wings injuries pave way for Jakub Kindl’s return

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Those who thought Jakub Kindl’s days with the Red Wings were over, not so fast.

Kindl was waived and went unclaimed Jan. 10, and was sent to minor league affiliate Grand Rapids. But, he’s found his way back to the NHL because of Niklas Kronwall’s knee surgery.

On Monday, Kindl re-entered the Red Wings lineup as Mike Green went down with a sore groin.

Kindl hasn’t played a game in the NHL since Dec. 29 when he played almost 21 minutes in a loss at Winnipeg.

The fact Kindl has been playing in the American League, coach Jeff Blashill said, should help the transition back into an NHL lineup.

“He had an opportunity to play, and that’s a huge advantage,” Blashill said. “I’ve watched guys who’ve sat for two months and tried to play, and it’s incredibly hard.

“Guys who are called up, have way more of an advantage because they’ve been playing, the levels aren’t that much different (between the NHL and AHL) and it’s a big adjustment.

“Jakub has done a good job through his career here. He’s going to get an opportunity on the power play, that’s an area he’s excelled at. Playing to his strengths means he’s a great outlet passer, he just has to make sure he’s tight gapped and he has to be real good on the power play.”

Blashill is calling Green a day-to-day situation, as of now.

“Greenie tweaked his groin a little bit in the game the other day (Saturday), so he’ll be out day to day right now,” Blashill said. “I don’t think it’s anything too serious but the best I can say is it’s day to day, so we’ll see.”

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Respect your elders

Dylan Larkin enjoyed meeting players from different teams at the recent NHL All-Star weekend.

But there was one older player who could identify with Larkin, 19, and who left an indelible impression.

Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who is all of 20.

Ekblad won the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) last season and already is being mentioned as a possible Norris Trophy (best defenseman) finalist this spring.

“He’s a guy in kind of the same situation, pretty similar life,” Larkin said. “It was cool to chat with him and hang out with him and see how he handles himself.”

Blashill isn’t surprised the two young stars connected.

“Ekblad has been through it,” Blashill said of the media attention and focus. “I’m sure it’s easier for Larks to connect with a guy like Ekblad, than it is witih (Jaromir) Jagr, who is twice his age. I can see where he’d (Ekblad) have a positive impact on him and good for Ekblad if he did take him under his wing a little bit.”

Special day

So what was it like for Pavel Datsyuk to be reunited with Henrik Zetterberg on Saturday as a linemate?

“Like a holiday,” said Datsyuk, who was back with Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader on Monday against the Panthers. “If the team is winning, we can still be together (as linemates). We’ll try to make it a good thing for the team.”

Blashill said the two wily veterans like the idea of playing together for more than just one or two games, to fully recapture chemistry.

“It generally takes a little bit of time to create (chemistry),” Blashill said. “They showed flashes of it the other night but there’s more there as well. Given time, we’re hoping that there’s some synergy.”

Ice chips

Blashill isn’t making any other changes in the lineup, keeping the lines intact and goaltender Petr Mrazek in net.

… Blashill has been impressed what he’s seen of the Florida Panthers.

“We played them early in the year and their record hadn’t reflected it yet, but when we walked away from the bench (Nov. 29, a 2-1 Panthers overtime victory) we said that was one of the better teams we’ve faced in a long time,” Blashill said. “They’ve continued to be one of best teams we’ve faced.

“They’re one of the better teams in the East for a reason. They do a lot of good things well. They have a great combination of young and veteran (players), good experience, and a real good skill set.”