DETROIT – The juggling up of the forward units aren’t the only changes the Detroit Red Wings have made to their lineup.
Defenseman Brendan Smith also finds himself a healthy scratch for tonight’s home game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I’m surprised,” Smith said after the morning skate. “I don’t know, I’m just not in the plans today, I guess.”
Smith is a minus-4 through four games this season and has yet to register a point.
“There’s always things to improve but I don’t know what I need to do to get myself back in the lineup,” said Smith, who added he was never told why he was being sat. “I’m just going to keep plugging away. I am a minus-4 but if you watch those goals, I don’t think there’s a breakdown on my side. It is what it is. I’m just going to keep plugging away.”
Brian Lashoff will replace Smith on the blue line.
Smith was one the ice for a number of Phoenix’s odd-man rushes in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
“Last game I got caught twice and that definitely could have been the reason (why I’m) not in the lineup,” Smith said. “(Kyle) Quincey backed me up and saved me there but that happens all over the game where we’re backing guys up. I guess that game (he wasn’t good), I think I’ve been good in the other games, so I don’t know.”
Smith was a minus-2 in the game.
Luke Glendening will make his NHL debut tonight, centering a line with Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo, who’ll be making his season debut.
“I just think he’s smart, he’s a right-handed shot who can take faceoffs,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s going to get lit up in the NHL for a little bit, that’s just how life goes. He’s a good penalty killer. He’s competitive, he knows how to play, he’s what I would call a coach player, not a scout player, no scout would ever draft him, look him, because he doesn’t look that part, but he’s got unbelievable hockey sense, he’s an elite competitor and he’s a coach-type player, you can trust him to get stuff done.”
Glendening, 24, has two assists and is a plus-3 in two games this season with Grand Rapids.
“I’m excited, it’s a new opportunity, it’s great to be a part of a team I’ve watched since I was a kid, so I’m real excited,” Glendening said. “Hopefully I’ll be good on draws, just be physical and play my game. I’m not here to do anything special, just do what I’ve been doing.”
Glendening had eight goals and 18 assists last season with the Griffins and added six goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games.
“It was huge playing under coach Blashill, he has been instrumental in my development as a player, just the way he teaches, the time he takes with individual people, what he does on the ice. That was huge for me and hopefully I’ll keep it going,” Glendening said. “They have a lot of guys here right now, they just said keep working hard and maybe we’ll see you again.”
Todd Bertuzzi will start on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
Justin Abdelkader will play alongside Stephen Weiss and Johan Franzen.
“I’m hoping he’s going to provide some work ethic and get pucks back and give them more opportunity because we’re not getting enough of that,” Babcock said about adding Abdelkader to that line. “We need our big people to play big and hard and Abby’s done a real good job for Pav and Z. We’re hoping Bert can fill in and do that but Abby can get another group going. We need more than one group going.”
Daniel Alfredsson, who has one assist and is a minus-3 in four games, will skate on the third line with Daniel Cleary and Joakim Andersson.
Tomas Tatar and Mikael Samuelsson will be healthy scratches.
“He’s a good scorer and we need goals, so why isn’t he in? I ask myself the same question,” Babcock said when asked about Tatar.