The injury-riddled Detroit Red Wings are hoping the acquisition of David Legwand will lead to another trip to the postseason.
There should be plenty of inspiration to begin a playoff push Thursday night.
With Legwand possibly making his team debut, the Red Wings will first raise Nicklas Lidstrom’s No. 5 to the rafters before attempting to beat the Colorado Avalanche for a fifth straight meeting.
Detroit (28-21-12) is tied with Washington with 68 points, one behind Columbus for the final playoff position in the crowded Eastern Conference.
In an effort to return to the postseason for a 23rd straight time, the Red Wings acquired Legwand from Nashville in exchange for forwards Patrick Eaves and Calle Jarnkrok and a conditional draft pick ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline.
Legwand, a native of Detroit, was the Predators’ leader with 40 points, getting three – all assists – in his last two meetings with Colorado.
"He’s good defensively," general manager Ken Holland told the team’s official website. "He’s a guy that puts up 50-60 points and he’s an established, legitimate NHL player who can kill penalties and can play against anybody from the other team."
Holland could also be describing Lidstrom, the former defenseman who spent 20 seasons with Detroit before retiring in 2012.
Before Legwand takes the ice, the Red Wings will honor the seven-time Norris Trophy winner and four-time Stanley Cup champion by making him the eighth player to have his number retired by the franchise.
"We always started practice whether you’re stretching on the ice, you looked at the Stanley Cup banners and you looked at the numbers that were retired," Lidstrom told the team’s official website. "It just seems so much bigger than I imagined. I’ve been looking up at the rafters for a long time and seeing those name and it’s a little surreal that my name is going to be going up there, too."
Honoring Lidstrom may provide a spark after Detroit gave up three third-period goals to fall 4-3 at New Jersey on Tuesday.
The Red Wings may have suffered an even greater blow, as Darren Helm suffered an undisclosed head injury.
While Helm’s status is unclear, Detroit is also without Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder) and Daniel Cleary (knee). Stephen Weiss’ return from hernia surgery has become unpredictable.
Those injuries led to landing Legwand, who is scheduled to be a free agent after the season.
"With Zetterberg, with Datsyuk, with Helm, and with Weiss, the uncertainty of where we’re at, we felt it was important to get a bona-fide center," Holland said. "The one we acquired is a local boy, so if we want to keep him beyond this year, we think it’s reasonable that can happen, because he had to waive a no-trade clause to come here. He wanted to come home."
Detroit has won four straight meetings with the Avalanche (40-17-5), including a 4-2 road victory Oct. 17.
Colorado is third in the Central Division, one point back of second-place Chicago and three behind St. Louis for first. Still, the Avalanche opted to avoid making any major changes before Wednesday’s deadline.
Instead, they only acquired Reto Berra from Calgary for a second-round pick in this summer’s draft.
He joins a goaltending crew that includes starter Semyon Varlamov and veteran backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Berra is 9-17-2 with a 2.95 goals-against average this season.
Varlamov, who will likely be in net, has won seven of nine starts after making 36 saves in Tuesday’s 4-2 win at Chicago. He is 1-4-0 with a 3.58 GAA lifetime against Detroit.
Rookie Nathan MacKinnon got an assist against the Blackhawks, giving him a point in 12 straight games to tie Wayne Gretzky’s record for an 18-year-old set in 1979-80. The center has 17 points during his streak, but he was held without one by Detroit in October.