DETROIT -- The Anaheim Ducks are likely to be without defenseman Toni Lydman for Game 4 of this Western Conference Quarterfinals series, while the Detroit Red Wings are waiting to find out if they will not have forward Justin Abdelkader available Monday night.
Abdelkader received a five-minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct for a hit on Lydman with a little more than five minutes remaining in the second period of Game 3 here Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. He was slated to have a supplemental disciplinary hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Sunday afternoon.
Should Abdelkader be suspended, the Red Wings would be without a key component of their top line and an unsung hero in the team's drive to earn a 22nd consecutive berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Obviously a physical guy and he creates a lot of space and time for me and [Pavel Datsyuk]," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "He works really hard on the forecheck, and he gives us the puck and after that he works in front of the net screening the goalie and being there for rebounds."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he has already starting considering options to shuffle his forward lines if Abdelkader is unavailable, though Zetterberg said he "is looking forward to playing with [Abdelkader]" in Game 4.
Babcock did divulge that he would consider breaking up Datsyuk and Zetterberg to provide more balance. Another option would be to move Johan Frazen to the top trio, but Babcock said after Game 3 he'd had concerns about that making the Wings a one-line team.
Lydman did not participate in the team's practice Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. A team spokesman said the veteran Finnish defenseman was dealing with headaches and a sore neck. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau went a little further.
"I think at this stage it is hard to tell. Toni has headaches, and he's got a stiff neck, and bright lights are bugging him," Boudreau said. "I don't know when that's not going to be there. If we're going minute-by-minute and day-by-day, tomorrow is very questionable for him."
If Lydman cannot play, veteran Sheldon Souray will re-enter the lineup after being a healthy scratch for Game 3 because of Luca Sbisa's return from injury. Lydman is averaging a little more than 15 minutes per contest, but is counted on by the Ducks pretty heavily on the penalty kill.
"I think it is a big loss," Boudreau said. "He's played very valuable minutes down the stretch and he's played in big playoff games in the past, whether it was with Anaheim or it was with Buffalo. He doesn't rattle easily. He's one of those guys where you don't see a lot of flash, but at the end of the day he doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He's just a very strong individual. We're hoping he can come back from this pretty soon. We can use him all the time."
|Back to top|