DETROIT – Defenseman Ian White is all about being a team player.
But that doesn’t stop him for wanting to know his position on the team.
White was a healthy scratch for a fifth straight game Thursday night.
“It’s a little bittersweet because you want to be with the guys when they’re playing well,” White said after the morning skate Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. “When they’re playing well, you seem to play well, too. So it’s frustrating all around but usually there’s some sort of reasoning behind it that helps make it more understandable.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock sat White after Detroit’s 8-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24. He did so because he was having difficulty getting the puck out of his zone.
And with the return of Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey to the blue line, White was benched.
“I talked to Mike two days ago, just asking what it’s going to take to get back in the lineup,” White said. “The way it went was after the Vancouver game we won two in a row at home and went to L.A. They have fairly big forwards, so they figured they’re going to throw all the biggest D we have against them. We ended up playing pretty well defensively, gave up that last goal, but overall played a pretty good game. And then went to San Jose and other pretty big group and only gave up one. Come home and played Chicago, similar story, played sound defensively and again the day before, didn’t allow a goal until the end. So it’s pretty hard to change the lineup when you’re letting in one goal a game.”
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Wings had allowed just five goals in the last four games, all with White as a healthy scratch.
“From talking to the coach, what it’s going to take is a poor defensive game,” White said when asked what it will take for him to get back in the lineup. “We’ve been playing pretty solid defensively, not letting in too many goals, so it’s tough to change the defense up. So that’s what it’s going to take for me to get in, or an injury.
“In terms of trying to stick with it and how I deal with it, you’ve got to come to the rink and be a good teammate, can’t put yourself above the team and be pouting and moping around here,” White continued. “That doesn’t do anyone any favors. Just try to stay positive, there’s more to life than just hockey, too. You’ve got your family at home to worry about. So there are lots of things on the go other than this. But it’s really a frustrating time.”
This is all brand new for White, 28, who was paired with Nicklas Lidstrom most of last season after signing a two-year deal worth $5.75 million to replace Brian Rafalski on the blue line.
White, who is the elder statesman on the blue line playing 492 games, said he has not asked to be traded.
“No, we’re not there yet,” White said. “This is Game 5, you play so many games in a condensed period, it can get away from you pretty quick. All of a sudden you look after the weekend that’s seven straight games, if you don’t play. Where do I fit, we’ve got (Carlo) Colaiacovo coming back. You just try to get a determination of where he thinks you fit and where Ken (Holland) thinks you fit, now and going forward.”
Colaiacovo, who the Wings signed this offseason, is expected to return from a sprained left shoulder soon, which creates an even bigger jam on the blue line.
“You can skate, that keeps your conditioning up as much as you can for games,” White said. “Obviously, in games everything changes. The intensity is up more and your adrenaline is flowing a little bit. The one thing you kind of lose a little bit is your timing. Even your hands a little bit. It’s one thing to stick-handle in practice and do stuff there, but it’s usually not the same pace as the game.
“More than anything just mentally you’ve got to stay positive,” White added. “Times like this you question your abilities. You can’t do that. You’ve got to stay true to yourself, you know you’ve had success in the past, you know how to play the game. When you do get that next opportunity you’ve got to go back to playing the way you know how.”
White, who missed five games early in the season after suffering deep leg laceration, has one goal and one assist in 14 games. He’s also a minus-2.
“I’m confident I can contribute,” White said. “I’m sure, from speaking with them, they made it clear they want to keep me around. You just hope by keeping you around it means putting you in the lineup. Hopefully I’ll get back in soon and forget about this.”