When the Detroit Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena Tuesday night, it represented the second game of a back-to-back set. Coming out of the NHL’s Christmas break, the Red Wings defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 in Music City on Monday night.
Defenseman Mike Commodore was in Detroit’s lineup for both of their post-Christmas games. Add in the fact that Commodore played in Calgary in the Red Wings’ last game before Christmas and the redheaded blue-liner has done something he has not experienced in a while — playing three consecutive games.
The calendar year 2011 has been a rough one on Commodore.
Last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he was in and out of the lineup for the first couple of months, but in early January he was waived and eventually sent down to Springfield of the American Hockey League. Commodore requested a trade out of Columbus but his lofty salary made him an ill-advised risk, either via a trade or through the waiver wire.
Columbus bought out the remaining two years of Commodore’s contract in the offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. Detroit signed him to a one-year, $1 million contract July 1 to add depth to its blue line.
Tuesday night was just the sixth game Commodore’s name was on the lineup card this season. Not playing has been rough, but he has tried to keep his attitude positive and ready when coach Mike Babcock tells him he is playing.
"It is nice to get in a couple in a row," he said following Monday’s morning skate. "It is all about mental preparation. I just have to find a way to handle it. It is difficult. Until the year 2011, it is not something I have ever done in my career. It is new. Mentally might be the hardest part just sitting around."
Since Detroit played its last game before the break in Calgary, Commodore stayed there over the few days off to spend Christmas with his family. He managed to maintain his rigid workout schedule during the holiday break — a routine he has become very familiar with over the last year.
"You can work out all you want and you can practice all you want, but when it comes to playing games, to get in game shape you need to play games," Commodore said. "There are no excuses. I am happy for any opportunity I get here."
Babcock said he is happy with what he is seeing out of Commodore lately. Maybe those opportunities will become more regular as the calendar turns from a nightmarish 2011 to what the 37-year-old defenseman hopes is a much better 2012.
Central Division notes
Nashville Predators D Shea Weber absorbed an elbow to the chin from Dallas Stars D Mark Fistric on Friday and the Predators announced that the team captain sustained a concussion on the play. No penalty was called on Fistric and he was not subjected to a disciplinary hearing by the league. The Predators were optimistic that Weber would not be out of the lineup for too long, but the unpredictable nature of head injuries makes that far from certain. … The already young Nashville defense corps took a hit with Kevin Klein missing a week with what the team called the flu. His return date is still to be determined. … With Monday’s 4-1 win over Columbus, the Chicago Blackhawks reached the 50-point mark in their 36th game. They are the first team to reach the half-century mark. … Columbus fell to the Calgary Flames 2-1 in a shootout Tuesday night. The loss dropped Columbus’ record when leading after two periods to 7-5-2. It was the second time in five days the Blue Jackets could not hold a 5-4 lead after 40 minutes. In Nashville last Thursday, the lost 6-5 in regulation. … Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom did not play in the third period of Monday’s game in Nashville after pulling his groin. Tuesday, coach Mike Babcock said that Holmstrom would likely miss about a week. … St. Louis captain David Backes played in his 400th career NHL game Tuesday night in Detroit. He is the 26th player in Blues history to reach that milestone.