Wings lose DeKeyser for season; Lashoff to step in: Wings coach Mike Babcock, “It’s a big loss. It’s hard to believe a kid out of college would be a big loss, but he is. He’s played real well for us. We just have to keep on going.”

ROMULUS – Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock decided to go with another rookie defenseman to replace the rookie blue liner they lost Thursday night in Anaheim.

Brian Lashoff will replace Danny DeKeyser on defense for Game 3 Saturday night of the Wings’ Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena.

“It’s a big loss,” Babcock said after getting off the plane Friday afternoon. “It’s hard to believe a kid out of college would be a big loss, but he is. He’s played real well for us. We just have to keep on going. That’s the playoffs.”

DeKeyser broke his right thumb on what he believes was a collision with Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri midway through the third period of Thursday’s 5-4 overtime win.

He’ll be sidelined six-to-eight weeks. He may also have to have surgery. That decision will come soon, as early as Saturday.

“I was a little nervous to actually take my glove off and look at it,” DeKeyser said. “I was kind of turning (to my left). I think it was Palmieri, I don’t really remember for sure. (He) kind of came in to hit me and my hand went into him as he hit me, just kind of bent it back and I guess it snapped.”

Babcock elected to go with Lashoff, wo will be making his NHL playoff debut, over veterans Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian White.

“He’s just smart,” Babcock said of Lashoff. “He knows how to play and he competes hard. He makes a good first pass, he’s a good penalty killer and is very competitive.”

Lashoff has been a healthy scratch along Detroit’s crowded blue line for some time. He last played on April 4.

Lashoff, 23, has one goal and four assists in 31 games. He also had a minus-10 rating.

“Just the thought of not being able to play the rest of the playoffs is a bummer for sure,” DeKeyser said. “It’s something I definitely wanted to continue to do here. I’m just going to have to get over it and move on.”

Babcock credited the signing of DeKeyser as the main reason the Wings extended their streak of appearances in the postseason to 22 consecutive seasons.

“It’s been a good month or so for me here,” DeKeyser said. “I just tried to come in and play my game the best I could and just to contribute in the ways I could. I did a pretty good job of doing that.

“I knew coming in that it’s a higher level, obviously, so I was going to have to step up my game and play solid positioning out there and just try to use my feet to skate out of trouble and keep guys to the outside,” DeKeyser added. “So nothing really surprised me too much. I knew the skill level and everything was going to be that much more.”

DeKeyser also earned the respect of all his teammates.

“Danny’s been playing really well ever since he came in, coming from college hockey, going straight into basically playoff hockey,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s a tough loss for us. He played a lot of minutes and did really well. Now Lash will get a chance to play again. I think he played well when he’s been in this year so it’s going to be fun to see him back playing with us.”

“First of all, I think Lash is going to come in and play great, just like he has all season,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Obviously losing DK is going to be a tough challenge. Ever since he came in, he’s been playing great for us, playing more and more minutes, playing in all kinds of situations. He’s been huge for us. In saying that, I think Lash is going to do great. He was playing really well this year and he’s ready for this.

“What he’s been able to do, I don’t know if people really realize how good he’s been for us,” Kronwall continued. “Coming from college, you don’t really expect somebody to come in and play that well for us. He’s going to be here for years and years to come. We’re really happy he chose to come here.”

Just before the injury DeKeyser got under veteran Teemu Selanne’s skin after he finished off a check in the Ducks’ zone. Selanne was assessed a two-minute roughing penalty.

“He had the puck, I was just finishing my hit,” DeKeyser said. “I guess he didn’t like it too much. I thought it was a clean hit. It was 4-1 at that time and I’m sure he was getting frustrated.”


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