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Season might not be over for Red Wings' DeKeyser

by Corey Masisak

DETROIT -- When Danny DeKeyser learned he had a broken thumb after Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the rookie defenseman was done for the remainder of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Well, that might not end up being accurate.

DeKeyser's thumb is healing faster than expected, and the surprising Red Wings keep winning. DeKeyser was set to meet with a team doctor Wednesday after practice at Joe Louis Arena, and his expectation was the hard cast that was protecting his thumb, hand, wrist and part of his forearm was coming off.

"I'm pretty sure," DeKeyser said. "The doc said last week that it looked good and when I saw him [Wednesday] he was going to make a decision on whether it was going to come off but he was pretty sure it was going to be."

The Red Wings will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It will be three weeks to the day of DeKeyser's injury.

That night, his prognosis was for a recovery time of six to eight weeks, which would have meant he was done regardless of how far the Red Wings progress. If things continue to go well, DeKeyser could be available to Detroit in the next round if the Red Wings are able to pull off the upset of the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks. Detroit leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

"I'm not ruling that out. I'm not 100-percent sure on that," DeKeyser said when asked if playing in the next round is a possibility. "As it is right now, I'm not ready to go yet. If I keep progressing like I am, I might have a chance to do that. I can't say for sure, because I need to see how it is in another week or two.

"As long as they keep winning, it just gives me a better chance for a return with every win they get. I'm just hoping that the guys in here can keep winning and we can keep improving. Hopefully I'll get a chance in a playoff game again."

DeKeyser was a key addition for the Red Wings in their push to reach the postseason for a 22nd consecutive season. He was the most coveted member of this year's college free-agent class after starring at Western Michigan. He had one assist and a plus-4 rating in 11 regular-season games, and played 19:31 in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 1 of the first round.

The Red Wings are notorious for being patient with their prospects, but DeKeyser became a key component of the Detroit blue line in short order. The next step if the hard cast comes off will be a plastic brace to cover and protect his thumb. There is a plate and some screws in his thumb after he had surgery to hopefully help quicken the recovery process.

Now he's back with the team skating and trying to make passes and shoot the puck, even with his hand and wrist in the hard cast.

"It is pretty hard, to be honest," DeKeyser said of shooting with the cast on. "I really just get all the leverage with my bottom hand and try to throw it at the net.

"They told me it would be six to eight weeks, and that would put me out until the end of June. That's what they told me. I just didn't know if that was going to be the case or not. I've just tried to stay in shape here and keep working hard. I wasn't doing a whole lot of skating a week or two ago, but now I'm on the ice every day trying to get my lungs back and my skating legs back."


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