DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings will get a key component of the team's top line back from suspension, but that isn't the only lineup tweak from coach Mike Babcock as an elimination game beckons.
Veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will make his debut in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 on Friday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN2), replacing rookie Brian Lashoff. Detroit, down 3-2 in the series, needs a win to force Game 7 in Anaheim on Sunday.
"We didn't move the puck," Babcock said of the reason for his switch on the blue line. "I thought we struggled, particularly with that pair, in a lot of the game, from the opening shift to a number of shifts. We weren't good enough so we're making a change."
Colaiacovo played six games this season, missing a big chunk of it with a shoulder injury. He returned April 1, but played in four of the final 13 games of the regular season and not at all in the first five of this series. He will take the place of rookie Brian Lashoff.
"I don't think there was any sense that I wouldn't be ready," Colaiacovo said. "I've been ready since I was cleared to play [in the regular season]. Obviously it [stinks] not playing, but I'm getting my opportunity tonight and we're down 3-2 so it is a desperate game. I've got to try and do whatever I can to help the team win."
The Red Wings will have forward Justin Abdelkader back on the top line after he was suspended for the past two games because of a hit on Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman. Detroit has gone with Mikael Samuelsson in that spot next to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but the Red Wings will welcome Abdelkader's ability to win battles along the boards and add a level of discomfort for the Ducks.
"It has been tough to watch -- nerve-racking," Abdelkader said. "It is not easy, especially at this time of year, to be sitting out and watching when you know you could help out and do something to help the team. ... Obviously it was a good feeling to see the guys pull it off [in Game 4] in overtime and I get another shot here in Game 6 at home."
Samuelsson will remain in the lineup, dropping to the fourth line. That leaves veteran Patrick Eaves as the odd-man out, a move Babcock admitted he didn't enjoy making.
"That's a real good question -- I asked myself the same question," Babcock said when asked if Eaves was out. "He's played good. He does what he's supposed to. Runs over people -- competitive, competitive guy. Because I know a little more insider information that I'm not sharing with [the media], I've got have to guys to cover up other people in case they can't survive. I did the same thing as you just asked -- it makes no sense to me either."
Daniel Cleary, who was questionable after being nicked up in Game 5, will play in Game 6 for the Red Wings.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said he isn't going to make any changes to the lineup.
Babcock said he was disappointed in his team's start to Game 5 in Anaheim and expects better Friday.
"I didn't think our team reacted very good in Anaheim in the first 10 minutes," Babcock said. "We need to start better than that. I was explaining to one of our guys that it is kind of like a lawn mower. You know, you choke it and start it and it is running for a few minutes to get going -- we don't need to be a lawn mower. We need to get that done in warm-ups, and we need to be idling just perfect [when the game starts]."
Here are the probable lineups for Game 6:
Injured: Toni Lydman (head)
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