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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