DETROIT — Taking a quick look at rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser’s line in his NHL debut Friday and his numbers aren’t impressive, but his coach and teammates were impressed with how well he played.
“I liked him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock after Friday’s 3-2 overtime win over Colorado. “He’s going to be a good player in the league for a long time. Obviously, he’s got to get a lot stronger and just as he gets comfortable playing in his own end, but he skates so good and passes the puck so good and he’s smart, good defender, makes it pretty easy to like him.”
DeKeyser was paired with Ian White on the blue line.
“I thought he was really solid,” White said. “Usually it takes a little while to get your feet wet, but I thought he was good pretty much from the get-go. Obviously (there are) a lot of nerves coming into a situation like this. It would be one thing to be a new guy starting the season but we’re in pretty much a do-or-die situation every game, so to come in in a must-win game like this and be calm under pressure like that spoke volumes about him.”
DeKeyser saw 16:36 of ice time, which included 1:35 shorthanded. He had three takeaways and two giveaways.
“The easiest way to get through any situation is to just talk,” White said. “We had a chat before the game and it’s nice to maybe lend some of my experience to him and help him through I’m sure a little bit of anxiety. We talked through it. I thought it went fine.”
For his efforts, the Wings gave DeKeyser the game puck afterwards.
“After I got the first shift or two done, it was good to get those out of the way because I got my legs going a little bit, got the feet moving and started trying to make some plays,” DeKeyser said. “So after the first two shifts, it was kind of like another game.”