Despite beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 on Tuesday night, the Detroit Red Wings received some bad news. Forward Tomas Jurco was held out of the third period due to an upper-body injury and will not play in Wednesday night’s game against the Calgary Flames, according to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan.
Babcock said Jurco (back) won’t play tomorrow in Calgary.
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) January 7, 2015
Having everyone healthy this season gives the Red Wings a lot of options as to how they fill Jurco’s roster spot. They can unscratch Joakim Andersson or Daniel Cleary, or if Jurco’s injury keeps him out for an extended period of time, they can do what I think they should do and call up Teemu Pulkkinen from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Teemu’s On Fire
Pulkkinen, a fourth-round pick in 2010, has been lighting up goal lamps around the AHL, much like his past teammates Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar did in prior years.
The Finn leads his team in scoring this season with 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists) and is second in the AHL. He’s also on a seven-game goal streak, a streak he couldn’t care less about, according to MLive.com’s Peter J. Wallner.
“It doesn’t matter because if I don’t score and we win the game then I don’t care. Of course, if I score and we win, then it’s going to be nice. That’s all.”
“It’s all about the team and the team is doing good right now and I’m getting some goals and so it’s nice.”
In today’s fantasy-driven sports world, it’s nice to see a player more concerned with team wins than padding his own stats. He’s also not concerning himself as to when he gets that inevitable callup, as he told me last month in this Q&A.
Pulkkinen has scored in every game since Dec. 19, and the Griffins have gone 5-1-0-1 during the streak.
The offensive success has landed him, as well as teammate Xaiver Ouellet, on the AHL’s Western Conference All-Star team.
In addition to the success he has had in North America, he had success in the Finnish Elite League by breaking Teemu Selanne’s single-season record — a record that held for more than 20 years — of 33 assists with 36 in the 2010-11 season.
Anytime you can break a record of arguably one of, if not the best, Finnish player to ever play the game, you must be doing something right.
What is well-documented about Pulkkinen is his blistering slap shot. He would be best used on the power play at the point. Not only does he have a weapon for a shot, but he’s right-handed, something the Red Wings have talked ad naseum about as far as what they have been looking for in a defenseman.
Not that the Red Wings’ power play is struggling at all, with the second-best power play in the NHL at 24.2 percent, but imagine how much better a right-handed shot from the point would make that already dangerous power play.
As far as where he plays five on five, he could play on the third line with Darren Helm and Johan Franzen or even on the fourth line with Drew Miller and Luke Glendening.
Pulkkinen does have very little NHL experience — he played in three games last year. However, the jump from the AHL to the NHL is a difficult one, and it’s better to ease him into it with third- and fourth-line minutes and competition rather than first- and second-line minutes and competition.
For a team that hasn’t had the easiest of times scoring goals for stretches during the season, it’s a no-brainer that Pulkkinen should get a shot to show what he can do at the NHL level.
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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.