Lashoff in for Smith; Gustavsson starting; Wings and Canucks both fighting to stay in playoff race

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game tonight against the Vancouver Canucks at Joe Louis Arena.

Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal and Brian Lashoff replaces Brendan Smith along the blue line.

Wings coach Mike Babcock shook his head no when asked if Smith was injured.

“I’ve seen lots from Lash so he’s going in,” Babcock added when asked what he’s seen of Smith lately.

Smith drew a tripping penalty in overtime that led to the game-winning goal by Washington on Sunday.

The rest of the lineup remains the same.

Vancouver and Detroit find themselves in unfamiliar grounds as they both are battling for their playoff lives.

“Things do change,” Babcock said. “We haven’t been the same team since ’09. We’re aware of that. There are number of options in the league. You can be bad for 10 years and get a bunch of first round picks or you can just try and do it on the fly and that’s how we’re doing it, on the fly. We want to continue to make the playoffs and try and improve our team.”

Both teams are in the second of two wild card berths in their respective conferences.

“We have a lot of kids in our lineup right now that have played well for us,” Babcock said. “We just think we need time for them to make progress. If we can hang in there, ideally we’ll get (Pavel) Datsyuk back, he’s a key guy for us, no different than (Vancouver’s) big guys. He will be a key addition.”

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