CHICAGO – Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings’ morning skate at the United Center prior to Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Cory Emmerton will be back centering the fourth line as Mikael Samuelsson is back sidelined with a pectoral muscle injury.
“I’ve just got to play my game, be physical and be hard to play against,” Emmerton said. “For our line, we need to play well down low, be in their zone and play hard. That’s going to be the keys for us to be successful.
“You don’t want to watch ever,” Emmerton added. “I got to watch and it wasn’t a lot of fun. I’ll do my best to not get in that situation again.”
Samuelsson was reinjured sometime in Game 7 against Anaheim on Sunday.
“I have some problems with the same stuff I had before,” said Samuelsson, who hopes to return sometime in this series. “I played Sunday and know it’s Wednesday and the next game’s not till Saturday so we’ll see what happens.”
Forward Pavel Datsyuk was nominated for the Selke, along with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.
“I’m really happy for him,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s not a big surprise. I think he should be up for it every year. He’s been really good for us this year.”
The Selke is awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
“He’s one of the hardest guys to play against, offensively and defensively he has all the tools and he’s so strong on the puck,” defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “He’s one of those guys you’d never think of hitting because he’ll make you look stupid by going around you or counter-hitting you. He’s probably one of the best overall players in the world. It’s amazing just being in the room and seeing what he does every day on the ice.”
Datsyuk is a three-time Selke winner and is a finalist for the sixth consecutive year, surpassing the streaks of Montreal’s Guy Carbonneau (1986 through 1990) and Bob Gainey (1978 through 1982) as the longest since the award was introduced in 1978.
“He’s in my mind the best overall forward in the game,” forward Joakim Andersson said. “For sure I can learn all kind of stuff from him. I can’t do half what he can do with the puck. He’s in the right spots, just making smart plays in the D zone and all over the place. For sure I learn a lot from him and Zetterberg.”
Datsyuk finished tied for the League lead in takeaways (56) and topped the Wings in plus-minus at a plus-21.
“It helps so much when your best defense is your best offense,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “If he’s got the puck you’re always on offense. Having him out there, it makes our job so much easier on defense, it’s having another D-man back there. He’s so smart with his positioning and having a good stick and he pick pockets everybody. Instead of playing in our own end we’re playing in their end, that’s what we ultimately want to do. His work ethic, that’s the reason he’s a finalist, and his competition level is so high that he battles in all situations.”