DETROIT – Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings’ morning skate at Joe Louis Arena prior to Game 6 tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.
Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will replace Brian Lashoff in the lineup and with Justin Abdelkader returning from suspension, forward Patrick Eaves will be a healthy scratch.
“We didn’t move the puck (in Game 5),” Wings coach Mike Babcock said about his decision to sit Lashoff. “We struggled, in particular that pair a lot that game, opening shift and a number of other shifts. We weren’t good enough so we’re making a change.”
Lashoff was paired with Jakub Kindl.
“You’re a pro, you’ve been practicing, here’s your opportunity, you can decide for yourself,” Babcock said. “If you’re mentally tough it shouldn’t be an issue.”
Colaiacovo was told he would make his playoff debut on the plane ride back from Anaheim on Thursday.
“I don’t know what the word is to use, I think excited is a small word,” Colaiacovo said. “It’s real gratifying obviously. This is the biggest reason why I wanted to come here, to play at this time of the season for this team. It’s been tough watching, but I think the team has done a great job in getting us to this point. We’ve got a real good group in here, a real resilient group. It’s taken a lot of patience and hard work for me to get this opportunity and I just want to make the most of it tonight. It’s a game that’s really important to us. It’s do or die and there’s no better feeling than playing playoff hockey.”
As far as Babcock’s decision to sit Eaves over Mikael Samuelsson or Todd Bertuzzi, that was much tougher.
“Real good question and I ask myself the same question,” Babcock said when asked why Eaves was sitting. “He played good, does what he’s supposed to, runs over people and a real competitive guy. But because I know more insider information that I’m not sharing with you, I have to have other guys to cover up for other people just in case they can’t survive. I did the same thing you just asked, it makes no sense for me.”
That player could be Daniel Cleary, who was checked from behind against the end boards by Daniel Winnik in Game 5.
“I feel good,” Cleary said. “It’s playoffs. I feel good. I was happy about that this morning.”
Cleary left the game on Wednesday in Anaheim with a shoulder injury, but did return for the start of the third.
“I didn’t see him at any point,” Cleary said of the incident. “It’s a dangerous play, what happened to me on the ice with my shoulder. Hockey’s a fast game, decisions are made quickly.
It was as bad as I anticipated. I was … it’s fine. I got a little bit of help from the doctors, was able to come back and I feel good today.”