DETROIT – It was only a couple of weeks ago when the Detroit Red Wings were talking about how important it was to have experienced depth along the blue line.
In fact, that was the sentiment of both Detroit general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock after they landed 26-year old defenseman Kyle Quincey in a three team trade on Feb. 21 while in Chicago.
Earlier that same day, Detroit lost its star center Pavel Datsyuk for several weeks after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery – which he's still rehabbing now. Goalie Jimmy Howard also made his return to the starting lineup that night against the Chicago Blackhawks after sitting out eight straight contests with a fractured index finger on his right hand, but all in all they were doing well from a health standpoint.
Now, their health has become a pretty sizeable issue after losing top defenseman and captain Nicklas Lidstrom to a deep bone bruise in his ankle a week ago, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to a fractured wrist in the same game and then watching both Howard (lower body) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (upper body) not finish Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena.
Howard told reporters after the game that he was "day-to-day" with an undisclosed injury that "stiffened up" as the first period went along, while there was no timetable or specific injury given regarding Kindl.
"[Kindl], obviously we didn't make a very good decision, between us I don't know if we pressured him or what it was ... we knew he was a bit sore [before the game]," Babcock said. "We should have called someone up, I guess, in hindsight. Hindsight's great. It doesn't do you much good. Then Howie's got a lower-body injury and left the game and he'll be evaluated and we'll go from there."
Joey MacDonald replaced Howard to start the second period on Sunday and played well despite allowing the game-winning goal late in the second period, when beaten by a pretty move to the backhand by Chicago's Patrick Kane.
It was MacDonald's first loss in his past eight appearances, so if Howard is out for any length of time he'll likely become Detroit's starter going forward, with veteran Ty Conklin likely getting called up from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League to back him up.
Defensively, the Wings will most likely call up defenseman Doug Janik from Grand Rapids to replace Kindl if he can't make the trip to Philadelphia for Tuesday's game there.
"It's the nature of the game; sometimes it happens," Howard said of the injury woes. "You never want it to, but injuries do happen over a long season. Just going to have to remain positive and get back as quickly as possible. Joey's a class act. He's a great backup. He's a great partner for me to have. He just goes out there and plays."
As for Lidstrom, the Wings captain is slated to get his injured ankle looked at again on Monday. It's kept him sidelined for three games since he blocked a slap shot with his skate in a Feb. 25 loss at home to Colorado.
Datsyuk, meanwhile, skated on his own Sunday morning for the first time since his surgery. He hopes to be back in action sometime during an upcoming four-game road trip that starts on Mar. 10 in Nashville.
Ericsson is expected to be out at least another 2-3 weeks if not longer. And that's not to mention forward Todd Bertuzzi, a game-time decision on Sunday against Chicago with a minor groin issue, or Henrik Zetterberg – who's playing through a lower-body injury.