Tatar returns to Red Wings’ lineup

The Detroit Red Wings will get Tomas Tatar back against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, but that’s about it, as their injury list remains daunting.

In other words, Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen and Darren Helm remain on the shelf along with players with longer term issues. (Mikael Samuelsson is a healthy scratch.)

Tatar, 23, traveled to Slovakia or his father’s funeral, missing Thursday’s 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers in the process. He paid tribute to his father after scoring a goal last week:

The Red Wings suffered two straight 1-0 losses, but this begins a five-game homestand. While they’ve been disappointing in Detroit this season, this represents a chance to turn things around. The Kings and injury woes won’t make that easy, though.

Add Alfredsson to Detroit’s injured list Saturday


Mike Babcock keeps saying the right things, but the injuries continue to pile up for the Detroit Red Wings. Daniel Alfredsson is a late addition to the injured list against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.

Update: the Red Wings say he’s dealing with back spasms and will be replaced by Mikael Samuelsson (or “Sammy”). George Malik of Kukla’s Korner points out that there was also a report that he might be dealing with a groin injury.

Alfredsson is far from the only key player who can’t go against the Kings tonight, as Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Johan Franzen also rank among the injured.

The veteran winger has been effective when healthy this season, scoring 30 points in the 38 games he’s appeared in.

Wings make Samuelsson healthy scratch, Tootoo draws in


Losers of six straight, the Red Wings are looking for a spark and they’ll get one tonight as Jordin Tootoo — recently recalled from AHL Grand Rapids — will draw into the lineup against Calgary.

His inclusion will come at the expense of veteran Mikael Samuelsson who, according to the Detroit Free Press, will be a healthy scratch this evening.

Samuelsson, 36, has just one goal and three points in 21 games this year, and his lone goal came in a season-opening victory against Buffalo (so, 20 straight games without a tally.)

The veteran winger has played in each of Detroit’s last two games but has been largely ineffective, recording just two shots on goal with a minus-2 rating while playing under 10 minutes both nights.

As for Tootoo, he’ll be playing just his ninth game of the year and first since Nov. 4. The 30-year-old was placed on waivers and spent a brief time in AHL Grand Rapids before yesterday’s recall.

Emmerton draws back in for Detroit tonight vs. Philly

Cory Emmerton didn’t have many issues getting into the Red Wings lineup over the last two seasons.

This year, though, has been different.

The 25-year-old forward will play just his fifth game this season when the Wings host the Flyers on Wednesday, this after appearing in all 48 games last season and 71 of 82 during the 2011-12 campaign.

Emmerton was a casualty of Detroit’s cap crunch to start this year and was sent to AHL Grand Rapids as the club tried to deal with its glut of forwards (16 currently under contract.) He fared well with the Griffins, scoring 14 points in 18 games, and will have a big opportunity against Philadelphia given the fact three key Detroit forwards — Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi — are on the shelf with various injuries.

According to head coach Mike Babcock, Emmerton will center Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson on a line, which means the slumping Stephen Weiss — who has just two goals and three points in 22 games this year — moves up to center Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist.

Why has the Canucks’ power play ‘sucked’?


It wasn’t that long ago that Vancouver Canucks’ power play was one to be feared. These days, it emits comments like this one from head coach John Tortorella: “Our power play sucked.”

Tortorella’s remark came after last night’s 3-1 loss in Anaheim that saw the Canucks go 0-for-2 with the man advantage. Vancouver’s power play currently ranks 27th in the NHL, clicking at just 9.7 percent.

Compare that to 2010-11, when it finished first overall at 24.3 percent, and you’re talking about a significant drop.

The fall from best to almost worst has been a precipitous one for the Canucks’ power play. In 2011-12, the unit ranked fourth (19.8%); in 2012-13, it dropped to 22nd (15.8%).

What happened? Well, there’s no shortage of theories. Vancouver became too predictable, say some observers. And there’s probably something to that.

But looking back to the Canucks’ salad days in 2010-11 and something else stands out — two of their top point producers with the extra attacker aren’t with the club anymore. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is in Buffalo; forward Mikael Samuelsson is in Detroit.

Ehrhoff’s absence has been felt the most of the two. In 2010-11, he finished tied for fourth in the NHL with 28 power-play points — 22 of them being assists — and spent by far the most of any Vancouver d-men on the ice with the man advantage (281:28).

Today, the Canucks don’t have a go-to power-play quarterback on the back end. Alex Edler and Jason Garrison were supposed to be the guys, but the results haven’t been there. Yes, they’ve both got big shots. But can they create opportunities and dictate the play like Ehrhoff did in concert with the Sedins?

That’s a question general manager Mike Gillis may need to ask prior to the March 5 trade deadline. Granted, there won’t be an easy fix easy given the Canucks’ lack of cap space, so maybe his only real option is to hope for improvement.