DETROIT – This season and the Wings’ 2009-10 campaign have quite a few similarities when it comes to the rash of injuries suffered.
The big difference, that 09-10 year the injuries happened at the beginning of the season where as this year they’ve all been on the backend.
“When the year starts you know you’re going to get injuries,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Sunday. “It’s important to have depth. Also, injuries help you develop and grow your team if you can get through it. Fortunately we banked points away the first 50 games.”
Those banked points at the beginning of the season have helped the Wings stay at or near the top of the Western Conference standings.
Detroit is currently has the third most points in the Western Conference and four points behind Central Division-leading St. Louis.
During the 09-10 season, which had a condensed schedule because it was an Olympic year, the Wings fought their way past the halfway point to reach the postseason.
“We’ve had a great run, the most remarkable stretch for me was when we had no players, when we had eight guys missing and the guys hung in there and they battled and they chipped away and found ways to win games,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the final regular season game of the 09-10 season. “To me that’s more remarkable than what we’ve done since the Olympic break. Since the Olympic break it’s been great, but we had skill to do it with. When we were doing it when we had no skill, or not near as much I thought that was impressive.”
The Wings are currently without Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Nicklas Lidstrom (deep ankle bone), Jonathan Ericsson (fractured wrist), Jakub Kindl (upper body), Todd Bertuzzi (groin strain), Jimmy Howard (groin strain) and Patrick Eaves (concussion).
Holland said Howard is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Kings. As for Datsyuk, Lidstrom and Bertuzzi, their status won’t be known until Tuesday morning.
Holland added that he doesn’t think Kindl has skated since suffering the injury last week against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“The development of Joey MacDonald and Brendan Smith has been real important for us staying where we’re at,” Holland said. “And our coaches have gotten a chance to look at Gustav Nyquist for a couple of games now. Hopefully we’re developing a little more depth.
“I think it all depends where you’re at in the standings when injuries occur,” Holland added. “If you’re struggling to make the playoffs and you’re hit with injuries it’s a disaster, but fortunately we banked a lot of points away and we’re weathering the storm on the standings front. We want to get healthy here and take a run at home ice.”
The Wings, who are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, are just 16-18-1 on the road this season.
They play their next three on the road.
“I don’t know if we’ve played that bad on the road of late,” Holland said. “We out shot Nashville almost 2-1 (Saturday) night and we out shot Philadelphia 35-12 the last two periods. I don’t know if we’ve played that bad.”
The Wings, who set an NHL record for consecutive wins on home ice earlier this season with 23, are 28-4-2 at Joe Louis Arena this season.
“We’ve just found ways to win at home and we’ve found ways to lose on the road,” Holland said. “Specialty teams have been a factor. I think we were 2-for-4 (on the penalty kill) Saturday night and 0-for-4 or 0-for-5 (on power play). I think our power play has shown signs of getting chances. You hope eventually you’re going to work your way out of it. I think we’ve been like 3-for-50 or 45 over the last 10 games.
“The record says we play good at home and bad on the road, but I think … we scored with five seconds left to go to beat Nashville at home and we seem to find ways to lose on the road,” Holland added. “These last few games it would have been nice to get some road wins. We need to figure out ways to win games on the road.”