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Cleary, Lashoff draw kudos from Babcock

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Right Wing  - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 1

Shots: 1 | +/-: E
DETROIT – Veteran forward Daniel Cleary and young defenseman Brian Lashoff earned kudos from their coach following Wednesday’s overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

Players on different ends of their careers both will be in the lineup tonight when the Red Wings host the New Jersey Devils on Military Appreciation Night at Joe Louis Arena.

“If you want to stay in the game, you have to be a good pro, whether you’re just starting or you’re just finishing,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought both of them were excellent. I thought Cleary showed good leadership and played right. I think Lash has been great since he’s gotten in, almost mistake free. To me those are good signs.”

Lashoff has played in the past three games, replacing veteran Kyle Quincey, who suffered an ankle injury last Friday against Los Angeles.

Despite missing the first 10 games as a healthy scratch, the 24-year-old Lashoff has been solid this week, logging nearly 15 minutes of ice time per game. But he says he still must be cognizant of maintaining gap control and getting back to the puck in the defensive zone.

“Just to make sure you’re up in the play in terms of being able to take their time and space away,” he said. “Things might seem a little faster, but in practice I think we do a lot of good drills to work on controlling the gap and taking away time and space.”

As for when Quincey is likely to return, Babcock said, “I think he thinks he’s ready. After he practices and shows us he’s ready he’ll go in.”

Cleary sat out the first 12 games as a healthy scratch. Babcock put him and rookie Andrej Nestrasil in Wednesday as a means to shake up the lineup, which has soon little to no urgency at the start of games recently.

Brian Lashoff
Defense  - DET
Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 0
Shots: 6 | +/-: E
“I’ve seen a few slow moments over the last two games,” Babcock said following Friday’s morning skate. “We turned the puck over seven times in the first 10 minutes (Wednesday) night and it was way too many in Ottawa I couldn’t count. You’re going to have some games like that. You can’t start behind the eight ball. Resiliency is a great thing, but what that really means is you have the ability. If you can be resilient you can start on time. Let’s get ready, take care of the puck and play the right way. You can make mistakes. We gave away two goals in New York on line changes. I thought no one else in the world could do that, but I watched New Jersey do it last night. We have to do a better job on line changes and we have to take care of the puck way better.”

Cleary has battled chronic knee problems the past few seasons, so he was glad to finally get his chance to get into the lineup and contribute, especially with a game-tying goal in the second period following a lengthy layoff.

“It felt good. It’s good to be back. It’s always good to play,” Cleary said Friday. “You try to keep your game simple. Now we’ve got to try and get some wins and get it going.”

The Red Wings return home following a three-game road trip where they produced a disappointing 0-1-2 record. Meanwhile, the Devils have posted a 3-5-2 mark in their past 10 games, including a 4-3 loss in St. Louis on Thursday.

“We’ve got to have a better start,” Lashoff said. “The last couple of games, the first 10 minutes of each game we were a little flat. If we can have good starts, especially today, because we know they played last night, we can get a jump on them and that should give the advantage to us.”

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