NASHVILLE – After missing a 4-3 win Friday against Los Angeles with an illness, Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader was expected back in the lineup Saturday for a metting with Central Division rival Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said that forward Joakim Andersson, who played in five games without any producing any points, was sent back to the minors.
The Red Wings have been depleted by injuries and it has started to catch up with them so even getting back a fourth-line forward like Abdelkader, who has seven goals and 13 assists, is a help.
While the Red Wings are starting to get healthy – center Pavel Datsyuk skated on Friday in Detroit – they will miss plenty of players Saturday. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will miss his sixth straight game, Datsyuk his ninth straight, forward Todd Bertuzzi his third straight, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson his sixth straight and goalie Jimmy Howard his third straight.
Babcock said the results have dropped off, but the team is doing the best it can.
“I mean our record’s not even close, so reality is we haven’t been good enough,” he said. “But we’ve battled hard. We’ve lost two of our last three games and we’ve given up 18 and 23 and 24 shots. So we’re not an offensive machine, but we’re hanging in there and we’re battling hard to try and help our goaltender out. I think we’ve done a pretty good job in that area.”
Babcock said the critical thing is not to lose ground in the standings. With Datsyuk out, Detroit is 3-4-1 and St. Louis has overtaken the Red Wings for the division lead.
Nashville could move within four points of Detroit for second in the division and fourth in the Western Conference with a regulation win.
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Darren Helm - Drew Miller
Gustav Nyqust - Cory Emmerton - Danny Cleary
Tomas Holmstrom - Justin Abdelkader - Jan Mursak
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White
Doug Janik - Brendan Smith