Daily Archives: December 24, 2013

Wings will go with six defensemen with Ericsson out; Kindl will return to lineup

DETROIT – Just when things on the injury front seemed to be getting better for the Detroit Red Wings, they suffered another major blow.

This time the injury has occurred along the blue line.

Jonathan Ericsson suffered two fractured ribs in Monday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

According to Wings general manager Ken Holland, Ericsson will be sidelined three to five weeks.

“He’s a big part of this team,” said Niklas Kronwall, who’s been paired on the blue line with Ericsson most of the season.

Ericsson looked as if has was injured during a collision with the Islanders’ Josh Bailey in the first period on Monday and then later re-aggravated it after checking Matt Martin early in the second.

Holland said the Wings will not recall another defenseman from Grand Rapids, going with the six they already have on the roster.

That means Jakub Kindl, who’s been a healthy scratch the last two games, will return to the lineup Saturday in Florida.

It’s the second time this season that Ericsson will be sidelined an extensive time, missing 10 games with a left shoulder subluxation.

Ericsson will miss the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and put him in jeopardy of missing the Olympics.

Jonas Gustavsson was scratched as the starter on Monday because of a tender groin.

Holland said he won’t have an update on the netminder until Friday when the team resumes practice.

Gustav Nyquist returned to the lineup Monday after missing three games with a groin injury.

Justin Abdelkader (concussion) and Henrik Zetterberg (back) appear on track to return to the lineup Saturday.

A final decision on Zetterberg will come Friday.

Johan Franzen (concussion) has skated on his own over the past two days and could return for the Winter Classic.

Jimmy Howard (knee) is still on track to possibly back up Petr Mrazek or Gustavsson on Saturday and could get back between the pipes on Monday at Nashville.

Stephen Weiss should be ready to return after the Olympic break after having successful sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia.

There is no further update on when Darren Helm (shoulder) will return.

Earlier this season, Ericsson, 29, signed a six-year extension worth $25.5 million.

He was in the final year of his deal that pays him $3.2 million a year. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Ericsson, who played forward in his teen years, is 6-foot-4 and was the last player taken in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Like most of the Wings’ prospects they had him spend a number seasons overseas before bringing him to Grand Rapids where he spent three more seasons.

The logjam on the blue line was deep for Ericsson to break in with the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall.

“It’s taken time,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He evolved and now he plays on our top pair. He’s a big man and he can pass the puck. He’s smart and he obviously likes playing here or he wouldn’t have signed the deal and we like having him. It’s good for all of us.”

Ericsson raised his own bar high after his second short stint in Detroit and carried that over to a strong run in the 2009 playoffs, but then came some very inconsistent play over the next few seasons as Ericsson found himself in the Wings’ final pairing on D most of the nights.

“It’s not like Big E didn’t have his moments here where he struggled,” Babcock said. “That’s most of these guys’ careers. It’s hard. There are only so many stars and even those guys have up and down times. It’s no different than all of us.”

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Ericsson out 3-5 weeks after suffering two fractured ribs Monday

DETROIT – Just when things on the injury front seemed to be getting better for the Detroit Red Wings, they suffer another major blow.

This time the injury has occurred along the blue line.

Jonathan Ericsson suffered two fractured ribs in Monday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

According to Wings general manager Ken Holland, Ericsson will be sidelined three to five weeks.

Ericsson will miss the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and put him in jeopardy of missing the Olympics.

More to come…

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “When you’re getting booed off the ice after the first period, in your own building, the last day before Christmas (break), to me that’s a sad state of affairs.”

DETROIT – The New York Islanders found a way to spoil the Detroit Red Wings’ three-day Christmas break, Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

And all it took to do so was a span of six minutes in the first period.

The Islanders, who have the third-worst record in the NHL, scored three goals in that six-minute timeframe and that was all they needed to hand the Wings a 3-0 loss.

“I think disappointing is a real good word,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We talked it prior the game, we’ve had a hard time getting traction. We had a number of injuries, but began to battle our way back to get some traction and I thought our intensity in the first period wasn’t good enough. They scored on their shots and I don’t think we did much. They didn’t do much either, but they scored.”

The loss drops Detroit’s record to 6-10-6 on home ice.

“The bottom line is we played catchup all night long,” Babcock said. “I thought we made it easy on their team. We never got in on their D, we weren’t physical like we have been, or heavy in the offensive zone.”

The Wings, who also lost Jonathan Ericsson to an apparent shoulder injury early in the second period, had won two straight prior to Monday.

“As a coach, who’s involved in the preparation process, we dropped the ball and so did the players,” Babcock continued. “This wasn’t a good enough effort. When you’re getting booed off the ice after the first period, in your own building, the last day before Christmas (break), to me that’s a sad state of affairs. We’ll have three days to think about it obviously. We’ll get better at it and we’re going to be better than this because this wasn’t good enough.”

It’s the fourth time this season Detroit has been shut out as well as the Islanders fourth straight win at Joe Louis Arena.

Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner and Casey Cizikas got the Islanders’ goals, while Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his 56th career shutout.

“It was horrendous,” Niklas Kronwall said of the Wings’ first period. “I don’t know what happened there. We were a step behind, I thought, the whole game.”

Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey and Daniel Cleary finished a combined minus-7.

“We’re not blaming anybody in here, it’s all of us,” Kronwall said. “It’s not one guy doing something wrong, it’s all of us. We didn’t get the job done. Finally it felt like we knew how to play this game. Tonight, for some reason, we just weren’t there. Our fans deserve a hell of a lot more than this, for ourselves, too.”

Petr Mrazek, who got the start as a precautionary because of a tender groin Jonas Gustavsson felt after the morning skate, made 16 saves.

“It was definitely frustrating when you have a bad first period,” Luke Glendening said. “We didn’t have any enthusiasm. We were pretty flat and it showed on the ice when we went down 3-0 and we couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole.”

The Islanders are now 7-1-1 in their last nine against the Wings, who shut New York in their last meeting 5-0 on Nov. 29.

“We just weren’t prepared to play,” Glendening said. “We came out flat and not enthusiastically and that’s what happens. If you don’t come out ready to go you can go down quickly. We had two big wins under our belts coming in. It’s a frustrating one to lose, especially right before the three-day break. So hopefully we’ll come back rejuvenated and ready to go.”

The Islanders got on the board first just past the midway point of the first period, taking advantage of untimely pinch in by Smith.

Smith was unable to challenge to hold the puck in the Islanders zone and Thomas Vanek quickly got an outlet pass on the stick of John Tavares for the 2-on-1. Okposo quickly buried the cross-ice pass past Mrazek.

“It’s good to come into this building and get a huge win,” Okposo said. “I think we outplayed them for most of the game. I thought we had an extra gear tonight. They might have come out flat, but we did a good job to beat on them.”

Detroit fell behind 2-0 less than five minutes later after a pass from Josh Bailey deflected off the back of Smith’s stick and right to Grabner, who buried the one-timer.

The Islanders’ first-period onslaught was capped off when Cizikas found a seam in the Wings’ defense down low and took a feed from behind the net from Matt Martin to beat Mrazek cleanly.

The third goal prompted Babcock to use his one timeout of the game with a little over three minutes left in the first period.