DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena.
There will be two changes made to the Wings’ lineup for Game 3, Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith will both make their series debuts.
“I just felt (Ryan) Callahan, (Alex) Killorn and (Steven) Stamkos to me got a free ride in their building just for the fact that (Tyler) Johnson was playing against Pav or we had Glennie against them and they were trying hard to keep Glennie away from guys so Stamkos played against Sheahan and to me that didn’t work out very good for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was too much free ice.”
Abdelkader, who injured his right hand when he blocked the shot of Minnesota’s Marco Scandella on April 4, will skate with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist.
“I think my game’s really suited for the playoffs and hopefully I can help the team out,” Abdelkader said. “Be physical, be on the forecheck, be around the net and just watching the last two games it’s been tough. I’m itching to get out there and I’m excited.”
Abdelkader had a career-high 23 goals and 44 points this season.
“Putting Z back in the middle and giving him a winger, a guy that can skate and work for them helps,” Babcock said. “Abby’s a big body. He’s an everydayer. He competes hard like (Darren) Helm.
“The think I would say when you evaluate our team, we have a lot more to give,” Babcock continued. “We’re two games in and we’re 1-1, we have a lot more to give. We need everyone on deck. We can’t be one on or one off. We need everyone onboard. Abby’s a competitor. He’s a guy that’s good at the net. He plays hard. He competes hard. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.”
Pavel Datsyuk will center Helm and Tomas Tatar.
As for Smith, who has been a healthy scratch ever since he gloved the puck intentionally from the bench against Montreal, he gives the team more speed.
“Smitty can really skate and competes,” said Babcock, who didn’t want to get into the reasoning behind Smith being a healthy scratch. “I don’t think we’re skating good enough and I don’t think we’re competing hard enough. So there are two things.”
Alexey Marchenko, Stephen Weiss, Teemu Pulkkinen and Daniel Cleary will be healthy scratches.