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Facial injury has Red Wings' Kronwall a question mark

by Brian Hedger /

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings are used to dealing with injuries this season, so the fact that they might have to play another game without top defenseman Niklas Kronwall shouldn't faze them much.

Kronwall had a puck slide up his stick at the morning skate Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena and hit him in the mouth, cutting his chin and damaging his teeth. Kronwall, who has missed the past two games with a concussion, was sent to see a dentist and is listed as a game-time decision for the team's game Wednesday against the visiting Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m., TSN).

The Red Wings recalled rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League in case Kronwall can't play.

While Kronwall is questionable, the other half of its top defense pairing, Jonathan Ericsson, is out with a shoulder injury that's likely to sideline him for up to three weeks.

If Kronwall plays, he'll likely skate alongside Brendan Smith on the Wings' top defense pairings. If Kronwall cannot play, Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey likely will form the top defense pair. Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl then would be a second pair, with Ouellet and Smith forming the third pairing.

If Kronwall can't go, it's another opportunity for the Red Wings' younger defenders to show their skills, the way they did in helping goalie Jimmy Howard shut out the high-scoring San Jose Sharks through regulation and overtime Monday.

"What I find with injuries in the short term, sometimes the other guys get opportunities," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "It’s just maintaining that pace. Lots of guys can bring it for three or four games, can get excited for a while, but it's the [regulars] who can bring that every day who are the stars and they're hard to replace."

Howard will get the start in net for the Red Wings, who will be trying to get veteran Daniel Alfredsson a victory in his first game against the team he captained for 14 seasons.

The Senators will start Craig Anderson in net. In the lineup for the first time this season will be 20-year old center Mika Zibanejad, who likely will play in the middle of the fourth line Tuesday; he was recalled from the AHL on Tuesday.

"We just want to see [Zibanejad] go out and play and do what he does," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "He's a big guy that can skate. He can play with a lot of speed and power to the net and really shoot the puck, so that's what we want to see."

Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch will be a healthy scratch for Ottawa for the first time this season, along with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Matt Kassian.

MacLean said veteran Joe Corvo see more playing time to help spell the Senators' three young defenseman, Wiercioch, Eric Gryba and Jared Cowen.

"We just feel if we can get [Corvo] in the lineup consistently, it will give those two or three guys to maybe get a chance to get their legs under them a little bit more and then we can get them back in the lineup," MacLean said.

Here is how the Red Wings and Senators likely will line up Wednesday:


Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Cory Conacher

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Derek Grant - Mika Zibanejad - Erik Condra

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Eric Gryba

Jared Cowen - Joe Corvo

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Patrick Wiercioch, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Matt Kassian


Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader

Todd Bertuzzi - Johan Franzen - Daniel Alfredsson

Dan Cleary - Stephen Weiss - Tomas Tatar

Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Jordin Tootoo

Niklas Kronwall - Brendan Smith

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Brian Lashoff - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Mikael Samuelsson, Xavier Ouellet,

Injured: Darren Helm (back, groin), Patrick Eaves (sprained knee and ankle), Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder)

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