Detroit – The Red Wings' penalty kill, now back to 17th in the NHL with an 80.9 percent rate after sitting in the top 10 for a stretch earlier in the season, is battered by injuries.
When Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm sustaining damage to their lower bodies during the weekend, they joined Luke Glendening as reliable penalty killers on the shelf. Abdelkader and Helm will not play against the Stars Tuesday.
Both are considered day-to-day, the Wings said, after a practice Monday that featured a heavy emphasis on special teams, including the power play.
“I’m told neither looks long term but will need some time to heal,” GM Ken Holland said.
The team will determine later in the week whether Abdelkader or Helm can play against the Hurricanes on Saturday, Holland said.
Meanwhile, Glendening will not return until at least Jan 31 after the All-Star break, coach Jeff Blashill said.
And so, Dominic Turgeon suddenly becomes an important quantity at forward. Turgeon appeared in his first NHL game Sunday against the Blackhawks, and playing 1:43 on the penalty kill. Turgeon was one of five forwards to play on the penalty kill: Frans Nielsen (2:54), Dylan Larkin (2:01), Andreas Athanasiou (1:56) and Tyler Bertuzzi (1:16).
Turgeon, 21, has played 111 games in Grand Rapids the past two seasons and 259 for the Portland Winterhawks in major junior hockey in the Western Hockey League, garnering considerable penalty killing experience along the way.
“When I talked to Ken and (assistant general manager) Ryan Martin, the number one criterion for the call-up in this particular case was someone who was their best penalty killer, that could still play a four-line role,” Blashill said.
That man is Turgeon, the Red Wings 2014 third-round pick, 63rd overall and the son and nephew of former NHL stars.
His father, Pierre, scored more than a point per game over 19 seasons (1,294 games, 515 goals, 812 assists, 1,327 points). In a career half as long, his uncle, Sylvain, had five seasons of 25 or more goals, including 40 and 45 goals.
While the younger Turgeon says his game is less offensive than his dad’s, for sure, his nine goals and 14 assists through 40 games in Grand Rapids in his second season is a clear improvement over six and 12 in 71 games in his first.
As for the penalty kill?
“I’ve been playing PK pretty much my whole life,” Turgeon said. “So, I definitely feel comfortable doing it.”
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
In more clear signs this is a season of development for the Wings, Turgeon played his first game in the NHL Sunday and Tyler Bertuzzi scored his first goal.
Among those congratulating Bertuzzi was his uncle Todd, who is familiar with the back of the net in the NHL (314 goals, 456 assists, 770 points in 1,159 games, including 61 goals and 150 points with the Red Wings).
“Yeah, he texted me,” Bertuzzi said. “He said congrats. “It was good, he said I was playing really well and just keep going.”
Bertuzzi said he enjoyed scoring the goal along with Martin Frk.
“You know, we played together the last few years and we’ve had a lot of points together and contributed on goals,” Bertuzzi said. “But his one was special for me and for him to be able to assist on it.”
When Bertuzzi was asked about the source of their obvious friendship, Frk chuckled and cracked a broad grin. Bertuzzi paused, smiled and started laughing.
“That’s a long story,” Frk said.
In Pittsburgh Saturday, Luke Witkowski made the most of his time.
The bearded one played all of 5:56 against the Penguins and tied for the team lead with four shots on goal.
“Sometimes it just works like that, you know? The puck comes to you and you get the opportunity,” Witkowski said. “At the same time, I’m going to shoot when I get the chance.
“My mentality is just go and work hard every shift. Be a presence. Try to finish my checks.”
STARS vs. RED WINGS
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit, 97.1 FM.
Notable: Six of the next nine Wings’ games are at home through Feb. 6. They could prove decisive, before the trade deadline Feb. 26… The Stars are improved under GM Jim Nill since a difficult start. They have four players with at least 40 points, Jamie Benn (42), Tyler Seguin (41), John Klingberg (41) and Alexander Radulov (40).