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Nick Jensen shows his staying power with Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Nick Jensen

Detroit – Nick Jensen was scheduled to be in the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jensen’s 10th game in the NHL.

At this point Jensen, 26, would now need to clear waivers if he were to be sent down to Grand Rapids by the Red Wings. So it shows faith and confidence by the coaching staff that Jensen has remained in the lineup.

“I’ve known about it but I don’t really think about it much,” said Jensen, who has three assists with a minus-1 plus-minus in nine games. “I’m going game by game and just trying to earn my spot here and whatever happens, happens. I’m just trying to control what I can control.”

Jensen isn’t the biggest (6-0, 196 pounds) defenseman around and isn’t going to make a ton of highlight plays. But he earned the confidence of coach Jeff Blashill in the minor leagues in Grand Rapids, and quickly reestablished himself with Blashill at the NHL level.

“He’s a guy that’s easy to overlook because he’s not 6-foot-5 and he’s not real big, but he skates great and he’s a real good hockey player,” Blashill said. “Every coach that has coached him, and by that I mean running the defense, wants to put him back on the ice lots, and that’s usually a pretty good sign if you’re a defenseman.

“He earns trust from coaches because of his play, he’s accountable, and you can count on what he’s going to do and you know what you’re going to get out of him.”

Jensen has appreciated the confidence shown in him by the Red Wings’ coaching staff.

“Playing against these other teams that have a lot of good players on them, I’m taking it day by day and that’s been from day one, just trying to earn a spot in the lineup,” Jensen said. “That’s what I’m trying to do tonight.”

Coreau starts

In a mild surprise, Blashill decided to go back to goaltender Jared Coreau against the Penguins.

Coreau last played Jan. 7 in San Jose, allowing three goals on 15 shots before Petr Mrazek relieved to begin the second period.

Mrazek started the last two games in Chicago and Dallas, losing both (Chicago in overtime) while stopping 55 of 63 shots.

Coreau made his first NHL start Dec. 3 in Pittsburgh, taking a 3-1 lead into the third period before allowing three third-period goals in a 5-3 Pittsburgh win (the Penguins added an empty-net goal).

“We evaluate and watch and make decisions on who we believe gives us the best chance of winning,” said Blashill, on how he decides on a lineup. “It’s not different with the goalies or forwards or defense. You want to have your best team in the best situation to win, and to do that, you have to watch and evaluate.”

Ice chips

Niklas Kronwall (groin) and Darren Helm (dislocated shoulder) both skated Saturday.

Kronwall was hurt Jan. 4 in Anaheim, has missed the last four games, and said there’s still no timetable on a return but added he’s “encouraged” by the past few days.

Helm will be re-evaluated Sunday. He’s been out since Nov. 15.

Twitter @tkulfan