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Colaiacovo's excited for home debut

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was injured on this play when he was checked by the Blue Jackets' Cam Atkinson in the third period on Jan. 21. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Rough doesn’t begin to explain Carlo Colaiacovo's year.

So when the veteran defenseman was asked if he was excited about playing in his first game in a Red Wings uniform at Joe Louis Arena on Monday night, his answer was more than anticipated.

“Hell yeah! It’s been a long time so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Colaiacovo who missed 33 games with a shoulder injury. “I put in my time last couple of games with the Griffins and felt really good. Looking forward to carrying that momentum into tonight.”

Colaiacovo will make his home debut when the Red Wings host the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

“I'm really looking forward to it,” said Colaiacovo, of playing in front of the home crowd. “When I first signed here I said The Joe is one of my favorite rinks to play in. I haven't had that chance to do it in a Wings uniform. That's something that's going to keep the adrenaline going for me tonight.”

Colaiacovo spent the weekend on a conditioning assignment with the Wings’ AHL affiliate. He played in two games with the Grand Rapids club and felt pretty good physically.

“I had a couple of good hits down there,” he said. “It really wasn't an issue for me. It made me feel a part of the game. There's a lot of thoughts that go through your head prior to the game about what it's going to feel like again. But once you get in, it feels good and you feel good about yourself and you're in the game. That was a lot of fun to be part of.”

He suffered a left shoulder injury in Columbus on Jan. 21. It was the same shoulder that he sprained while playing for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup in December when he was hit by current teammate Damien Brunner.

Colaiacovo will replace rookie Brian Lashoff in the lineup and will be paired with another rookie, Brendan Smith.

Though Colaiacovo hasn’t played in more than two months, coach Mike Babcock isn’t concerned with the defenseman’s conditioning.

“He’s got to get in here and grab his piece,” Babcock said. “The thing we’re not at this time of the year and where we are in the playoffs is in the business of trying people out. You start in a position and if you’re not going someone else is going to take your spot.

“He worked at it. He’s been coming back for a long time, skating that whole time, it was his shoulder and not anything else so he should be fine. We just have to keep his shifts short, but we think he’ll be fine.”

The Wings’ defensive corps has been on the mend for some time now, and Kyle Quincey (facial fractures) said he’ll be ready for Thursday’s game at Phoenix. And Danny DeKeyser could be ready to make his NHL debut later this week too. It’s certainly a nice problem to have, Babcock said.

“I think DeKeyser thinks he’s playing Thursday as well so it’ll be a battle,” Babcock said. “I like having too many.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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