DETROIT – Quick update from Detroit Red Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena prior to tonight’s game with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Wings coach Mike Babcock has decided to insert Stephen Weiss to replace Henrik Zetterberg on the line with Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist.
“Weisser came here and got hurt and then he got hurt again so here’s an opportunity,” Babcock said. “I thought he was really starting to play for us on the West Coast trip and then he came back and he was injured. When you’re a guy coming in and trying to fit in and probably played when he shouldn’t have, and didn’t let us know, so he’s out for a while and it didn’t go as good for him. Bottom line we’re in the winning business so we’re going to do whatever we can to win.”
Weiss, who signed a five-year deal worth $4.9 million a season, has just two goals and an assist in 22 games this season.
“He’s in a situation, just like everyone else, Pav (Datsyuk) and Z aren’t here, (Danny) DeKeyser isn’t here, so those are good players that eat up a lot of ice time so someone’s getting the ice time,” Babcock said. “For me it doesn’t matter who gets it it’s just a matter of someone playing good and takes it. If you’re like DeKeyser was when (Jonathan) Ericsson was out he grabbed hold of it and proved his game and now he’s earned the confidence so someone can do that so ideally that’ll be Stevie.”
Weiss is also a minus-4.
“Sure it’s frustrating,” Weiss said. “You always want to personally do well and help the team. For me, coming here was about winning games and being on a team that has a chance to win every night and compete in the playoffs and for a Stanley Cup. When you’re winning games it’s tough to complain. But then there’s that side of you that every player has – you want to do well personally and help out and be a part of it. We’ll try to get that part going as well.”
Datsyuk will miss his fifth straight game with concussion-like symptoms, while Zetterberg is out a minimum two weeks with a small herniated disc.
Zetterberg leads the team in scoring with 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists), while Datsyuk is still second still with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists).
Franzen will center the line to start out, but Babcock will move Weiss there is he’s winning more faceoffs.
Cory Emmerton, who was recalled from Grand Rapids on Tuesday, will center the fourth line with Daniel Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson.
“I don’t know, I didn’t think about it too much, just worried about playing, playing good hockey and while I was in Grand Rapids, just worrying about playing for Grand Rapids so just tried to take care of myself there and play as well as I could,” Emmerton said when asked if he thought he’d ever be back play with the Wings. “That’s the biggest thing is I got to go there and play 20-plus minutes and work on some things that I haven’t got to in a few years, so I tried to get my confidence up and you know I think it’s gone a long way but the biggest thing is just to do it here now.”
Babcock didn’t want to break up the chemistry of this other two lines. Darren Helm centers Daniel Alfredsson and Justin Abdelkader, while Joakim Andersson plays between Drew Miller and Tomas Tatar.
“We wouldn’t be winning (without those lines),” Babcock said. “Obviously, Helm and Andersson and their lines, that’s why we didn’t change those lines at all they’ve both been excellent. Getting Alfredsson back and Helmer and Abby playing the way that they are and Tatar has been excellent for us. He’s been on the puck and makes plays and Miller skates. We’ve got two lines that have been going so tonight we have to make sure we have four.”
Todd Bertuzzi will miss his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury.
During the Wings’ current four-game win streak, all played without Datsyuk, they’ve outscored their opponents 18-4.
Tonight will be the first time Zetterberg and Datsyuk have been out of the lineup together since April 18, 2006, the final game of the regular season. Datsyuk sat with a knee injury and Zetterberg was held out to rest for the upcoming playoffs.
The Wings lost that game to the Nashville Predators, 6-3.