Coach Jeff Blashill likes Jensen's skating and his competitiveness.
Raleigh, N.C. — Defenseman Nick Jensen was called up to the Red Wings last season for a game but didn’t get a chance to play.
That wouldn't be the case this time.
Jensen was recalled from Grand Rapids Monday for this three-game road trip and he was in the lineup for Monday’s game against Carolina before it was postponed.
Jensen’s spot was solidified when defenseman Brian Lashoff took a puck to the mouth during the morning skate.
“Fairly severe,” said coach Jeff Blashill of Lashoff taking the puck to the mouth. “We’ve called up Nick Jensen for a reason, so if Lash can’t go, Jensen will.”
Jensen was recalled after Alexey Marchenko (shoulder) was placed on the seven-day injured list, and Mike Green (lower body) was ruled out after getting hurt Saturday against Anaheim.
Blashill ruled Green out for Monday and Tuesday’s game, and “probably (out)” for Friday’s game in Florida.
Jensen, 26, was excited about the prospect of finally getting into an NHL game.
Nick Jensen on how he will settle into his first NHL game with the Red Wings.
“There’s a bit of nerves, but it kind of fuels you a little bit,” Jensen said. “It helps you get up and get ready for the game, gives you energy.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be exciting, anxious, nervous, all of the above. But it should be fun.”
Jensen has played in 27 games with the Griffins, with one goal and five assists for six points.
Jensen (6-foot, 200-pounds) is a fourth-year pro and was one of the final cuts out of training camp, going unclaimed on waivers (any team could have claimed him) when he was sent back to Grand Rapids to begin the regular season.
Jensen (2009, 5th-round draft pick) has been generally considered a steady two-way player, with fine skating ability, although Blashill feels Jensen’s skating is also a defensive asset.
“Nick’s a big time competitor and an excellent skater,” Blashill said. “He uses his skating as a defensive weapon. Not that he can’t join the play, but it’s a defensive weapon. He skates you out of the zone well, and he competes extremely hard.”
Defenseman Xavier Ouellet has rebounded from being a healthy scratch into playing some of the best hockey of his young NHL career.
Ouellet sat for 10 games from Nov. 6 to Nov. 26 but was reinserted in the lineup has been thriving at both ends of the ice.
“He’s been excellent, been playing real well,” Blashill said. “He’s had to face tough opponents and he’s been excellent. He’s strong on his skates, smart defensively and he can make a play with the puck breaking out, or in the neutral zone with the puck.”
Sitting and watching was difficult for Ouellet.
“I enjoy playing and I love the game,” Ouellet said. “It was hard to sit for so long but I was excited to get back in the lineup, excited for every game.
“I just love it and I want to keep playing.”
The key, said Blashill, is for Ouellet to keep playing within himself.
“Make he manages his game and doesn’t do too much, and takes what he is given,” Blashill said.
Jimmy Howard got the start in net Monday against Carolina.
…Justin Abdelkader (knee), Darren Helm (shoulder), Tyler Bertuzzi (high ankle sprain) and Brendan Smiith (knee) all are on the trip and skating but none will return to action before next week at the earliest.
…Blashill spent one season on Mike Babcock’s Red Wings coaching staff as an assistant with current Carolina head coach Bill Peters (also an assistant for Babcock).
“We really developed a good friendship,” Blashill said. “I don’t’ talk to anybody as much as I’d like to except for my wife and family, but I’ll get a chance to chat with him today and when they’re not playing us, I’m cheering for him. He’s a great human being and does a real good job with the team.”
Blashill couldn’t resist one good-natured jab at Peters.
“Not as good at golf as I am and not as funny as I am, but other than that, does a real good job,” smiled Blashill.
Red Wings at Lightning
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena.
TV/radio: FSD, 97.1
Outlook: Tampa (15-14-3, 33 points) has been ravaged with injuries, beginning with star C Steven Stamkos..Leading scorer RW Nikita Kucherov (lower body) is the latest injured…G Ben Bishop (2.82 GAA, .906 SVS) has struggled at times.