No relief in sight for injured Red Wings
DETROIT — Another day, and no real relief in sight for the injury-plagued Detroit Red Wings.
In fact, it might be easier to name the players practicing than the ones who weren’t.
Captain Nick Lidstrom (ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Danny Cleary (knee), Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Jakub Kindl (upper body), Jimmy Howard (lower body), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Patrick Eaves (jaw, concussion) were all missing from practice Monday.
Coach Mike Babcock said Cleary would play Tuesday in Philadelphia. The rest of that list will not, which is why the Wings recalled defenseman Doug Janik, forward Chris Conner (who was with the team Sunday in case Bertuzzi could not go) and goaltender Jordan Pearce from the minor leagues.
“It’s all about opportunity, isn’t it? You can go around feeling sorry for yourself, which is an absolute waste of time, or you can find more players,” Babcock said. “The bottom line is the guys that aren’t healthy that are trying to play and can’t move, they’re not doing us any good, anyway. So let’s have a bunch of guys that are healthy and let’s get after it and find a way to win some games.”
The Wings did not recall goaltender Ty Conklin, as he would have to go through re-entry waivers.
Howard, the Wings’ regular goaltender, said he had his injury tested Monday morning.
“Went and got ultrasound on injury, and nothing really serious showed,” Howard said. Just get treatment here and get back as soon as possible.”
Howard remains hopeful he can play Friday against the Los Angeles Kings.
Until then, Joey MacDonald will fill in again. MacDonald has played in 10 games, going 7-2-1 with a 1.69 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
“Joey has played great for us,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Obviously, it’s sad to see Howie go down, but, hopefully, it’s not too bad. But, at the same time, I’m very confident in Joey, who has played great ever since he’s got the nod.”
As for Lidstrom, who was still experiencing pain when he tried his skate on Sunday, Babcock sounded fairly optimistic.
“I think Nick’s moving around better,” Babcock said. “I don’t know when he’ll be back, but, ideally, soon.”
It’s an unfamiliar situation for the Wings, playing without Lidstrom. Their 2-1 loss Sunday to Chicago was only the 10th home game he has missed in 20 seasons.
“Well, knock on wood, he’s been one of those guys who’s really never been hurt all throughout his career,” Kronwall said. “And we’re not used to playing without him. In saying that, that’s the way it is and we just have to look forward and do whatever we can out there.”
Datsyuk skated by himself before practice.
One of the players who has stepped up with the rash of injuries is Kronwall.
He was recognized Monday as the NHL’s second star of the week. He led all NHL defensemen with seven points (two goals, five assists) and tied for the league scoring lead.
“It’s obviously nice to be recognized, but at the same time we all feel in here that it’s a team game, and it just happened to be me this time,” Kronwall said. “I’ve been able to give the puck to the right guys at the right time of the game a few times and they have been doing the rest of the job, so I’d like to give them more credit than I deserve, really.”
Fellow defenseman Brad Stuart, who has been paired with Kronwall because of the injuries, said Kronwall has elevated his game.
“Kronner is a guy who will take on responsibility when guys go down and will look to be more of a leader,” Stuart said, “but I don’t know if that has anything to do with his hot streak. But he’s definitely that type of player who will step up when he’s needed.”
Said Babcock: “He’s played better and better. That’s what happens all the time. You talk about these injuries, but someone else steps up and rises to the occasion, and I think that’s important. It allows a player to gain confidence, be a better player when the other players come back. It improves your team.”
Philly to be tough test, special night
The Red Wings will have their hands full in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
The Flyers are fifth in the Eastern Conference with 79 points, but they are only 15-10-5 at home compared to 21-11-2 on the road.
The Wings have the opposite problem: They are 16-16-1 on the road, 27-4-2 at home.
“They’re a good team,” MacDonald said. “They got big bodies; they cause a lot of havoc for goalies. They crash the net . . .
“We have to bear down. I thought we came out a little flat (Sunday), didn’t have a whole lot of second chances. You got to shoot the puck on net. When you’re shooting from everywhere you’re going to get second chances.”
The Wings will also enjoy being part of a ceremony in which Mark Howe, the team’s director of professional scouting, will have his No. 2 retired by the Flyers.
“Howe is getting his sweater retired that night, so that’ll be a great Red Wing-Philly thing because Howe, his best year of his career were with Philly and we’re obviously real fond of him and real proud of him, so that’ll be a special night for them and for us,” Babcock said.
Howe will join four others with that honor: Bernie Parent, No. 1; Bobby Clarke, No. 16; Bill Barber, No. 7; and Barry Ashbee, No. 4.