AND FINALLY: There isn’t panic in the Motor City exactly, but with the news that team captain Nicklas Lidstrom has gone home to have his injured ankle (diagnosed as a deep bone bruise re-evaluated), there has to be concern at the very least. The Red Wings were wiped out in both Los Angeles and Anaheim on the first two games of a short California road trip that wraps up Saturday in San Jose. The good news is centre Pavel Datsyuk is supposed to return for that game, which should give the slumbering offence a boost. The bad news is that without Lidstrom, the defence looks a little thread-bare.
If this is what life without the future Hall Of Famer is going to look like, it’s no wonder that general manager Ken Holland’s off-season priority will be to coax Lidstrom into playing again next year, which would be his 21st season in the NHL. Lidstrom will miss his ninth consecutive game Saturday, the longest period of time he’s ever been out of the line-up in his remarkable career.
Detroit’s overall experience will make them a post-season threat, no matter who they end up facing in the playoffs, but according to defenceman Brad Stuart, they shouldn’t be this bad, no matter who is hurt.
“Obviously, we’ve got a few guys out of the line-up, but we should be a good enough team to put forth a better effort than we have,” said Stuart, in an interview. “Just because you’re missing a couple of guys is no excuse for starting games the way we have.” Stuart noted that the Red Wings got behind 2-0 early to the Kings and then started all right against the Ducks, but then, “one thing goes wrong and we kinda – I don’t know, collapse a little bit – and that shouldn’t happen to a team like us.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this team will be ready to go when the playoffs start, but at the same time, you want to be feeling good about your game when you go in. You don’t want to have to hope that you can turn it on. You want to be clicking and have that confidence. We’ve got to regroup here the next couple of days and get going.”