Left Wing - DET
Goals: 23 | Assists: 21 | Pts: 44
Shots: 154 | +/-: 3
– The Red Wings will be without Justin Abdelkader
when they host the Washington Capitals today at Joe Louis Arena.
Abdelkader, who has scored 10 goals in the last 17 games, suffered what the team is officially calling an upper-body injury when he blocked a shot in overtime of Detroit’s 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday night.
With 3:55 left in overtime, Abdelkader dropped to his right knee to block a shot by Wild defenseman Marco Scandella inside the blue line. Abdelkader finished the shift, but did not return in overtime, nor did he participate in the shootout, which the Red Wings won in eight rounds.
Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar are the team scorer leaders in the second half of the season. They’re tied with 12 goals in the past 37 games.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Red Wings’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth is six. Any combination of six points gained by the Wings or six points squandered by the Ottawa Senators will lift Detroit to its 24th straight playoff berth.
Detroit is currently tied with Boston and Pittsburgh with 95 points each in the Eastern Conference standings, though the Wings have a game in hand over the Bruins and Penguins, who have three games left in the season.
Coach Mike Babcock would like to see another strong start from the Wings, especially against the Capitals who own one of the league’s best 1-2 power play punches in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who lead the league in power-play goals (24) and power-play assists (29), respectively.
“Our penalty kill isn’t what we’d like it to be,” Babcock said. “It’s actually been pretty good but we’ve given up too many goals. I don’t know why we wouldn’t stay out of the box. That’s a priority for us today and I imagine they don’t want to be in the box either.”
Gustav Nyquist will take Abdelakder’s place opposite Tatar on Henrik Zetterberg’s line today.
Abdelkader missed seven games in December with a shoulder injury following a neutral zone collision with Vancouver defenseman Luca Sbisa on Nov. 30. Since then, Abdelkader has produced 16 goals and 28 points in 47 games.
Last month, he became the third Michigan-born player to score 20 goals in a single season for the Red Wings, joining Jimmy Carson and Kevin Miller.
The 28-year-old Abdelkader has produced 61 goals and 132 points in 398 career games for the Red Wings.
No timetable has been set for Abdelkader’s return to the lineup.