DETROIT — Suspended Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader met with reporters Monday to address his two-game suspension handed down by the league for his hit on Anaheim’s Toni Lydman.
“There was no intent to injury, I don’t try and injure or put anybody in harm,” an apologetic Abdelkader said. “I have respect for every one of the hockey players in this league.
“I hope Lydman is back tonight (he’s not), I hope he’s back right away and he’s not injured. It was unfortunate, it was a hard play, I play a physical game and I’m still going to play a physical game.”
Abdelkader would not elaborate about his hearing with former Red Wings Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s discipline Czar, only saying each side had their say.
Detroit coach, Mike Babcock, was succinct when asked about what he thought about the suspension.
“I gave my thoughts yesterday and I guess I was wrong, so let’s move on,” Babcock said.
Samuelsson with Zetterberg and Datsyuk
Taking Abdelkader’s spot on Detroit’s top line will be Mikael Samuelsson. A move that could be temporary, since Todd Bertuzzi, will also be in the Monday night’s lineup.
“I am going to start there (with Samuelsson), but I have two options, I put Bert (Bertuzzi) in as well, I’m going to watch the game and see what happens,” said Babcock. “In the last game it was real evident that we never got to the net, we never shot the puck, weren’t on the inside and weren’t heavy enough.
“So all those things are the challenge for everybody on our team not just Samuelsson.”
It’s been a frustrating year for Samuelsson, who missed 41 games this season with various injuries. He made his 2013 playoff debut on Saturday in Game 3’s 4-0 loss. His total ice time was 11:38, he was a minus-1 and was assessed a 2-minute interference penalty.
“It’s not like I haven’t been here before, I’ve played with good players,” Samuelsson said about being inserted on Detroit’s first line with Pavel Datsyuk and captain Henrik Zetterberg. “I know what they’re capable of and I’m going to try and find some open spots. They like to carry the puck and you’ve got to be ready when the puck comes to you and hopefully bury your chances.”
Brunner remains positive and poised
Detroit rookie forward Damien Brunner’s roller-coaster of a regular season continues in the playoffs. In Game 2, he was dynamic with a three-point effort but the goat in Game 3, when Ryan Getzlaf stripped him of the puck and scored a shorthanded goal that sealed the Wings’ fate.
“The whole part of the playoffs is staying balanced. Not getting too high or too low,” Brunner said. “It’s one win or one loss, at the end of the day you can’t change it.
“I made a big mistake and let the team down, but you can’t let it affect you. I’m not happy about what I did, but there’s another chance to make it better tonight.”
Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday night; catch all the action on FOX Sports Detroit.