RALEIGH, N.C. - Dan Renouf will join Nick Jensen and Robbie Russo as defensemen who have made their Red Wings debuts this season.
The Wings signed Renouf, 22, to a two-year entry level contract as a free agent last March after Renouf finished his junior year at the University of Maine.
With the team playing three games in three days due to the rescheduled game in Carolina, there was a need for a defenseman, so the Wings recalled Renouf from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins under emergency conditions.
The call-up took Renouf by surprise.
"It was right after the Rockford game on Saturday night, I was expecting to get on the bus to go to Milwaukee," Renouf said after the optional morning skate. "I really wasn't expecting it. They called me in and I thought we were going to look at video or something, he shook my hand. I wasn't expecting it but I was excited for sure."
Veteran Niklas Kronwall has a chronic knee condition and while he has proven he is able to play in back-to-back games, back-to-back-to-back is likely asking too much.
"He has a knee issue we have to be cognizant of and so he won't play today," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We hope to have him back the next day. We'll make that determination tomorrow."
Renouf is 6-foot-3, 209 pounds and has three goals,12 assists and 59 penalty minutes in 58 games with the Griffins.
"I got a chance to watch him play earlier in the year and I also got a chance to watch him play in the summer," Blashill said. "He's a good-sized D-man who I think plays fairly efficient, skates well, makes good decisions with the puck. I think efficient is a word that he's going to want to be to be the best he can be and have a good effect on our team.
"I'm interested to see him. You don't know for sure until you get a chance to watch guys play so it'll be good to watch him play at this level."
Renouf's 59 penalty minutes lead the Griffins and include five fights this season.
"It's something I think is the biggest part of my game, just being gritty, bringing that physical part of my game so I hope I can bring it here," Renouf said.
Renouf started his season on injured reserve after suffering a concussion in a preseason game.
"I think it kind of slowed me down starting the season," Renouf said. "I think that's why I was rusty to start the season and as it's gone along, I think I've improved for sure."
Blashill said Renouf is likely to start the game with Russo and he'll move Xavier Ouellet to a pair with Mike Green but the pairs could change throughout the game.
"We played a little bit this year together," Russo said. "We actually had some pretty good chemistry, so that's good and it helps out a lot for tonight."
Renouf said his parents, Lisa and Shawn, are flying in from Toronto for the game.
His girlfriend and the mom of a teammate are also coming.
RUSSO'S CHANCE: With Kronwall out, Blashill said Russo will get a chance on the power play.
"Ultimately, for him to be a regular in the NHL he's going to have to be real good on the power play, so he gets a chance tonight to hopefully be dynamic," Blashill said. "Although these guys don't take many penalties, so you hope to get a power play."
Russo said he did have some experience on the power play with the Griffins.
"It's pretty cool to get that opportunity, definitely a privilege to be on the power play, so try to make the most of it," Russo said. "Definitely being up top you got to be a shooter and I'll have Z (Henrik Zetterberg) out there, too. Get him the puck and let him do his thing."
Russo has played in 11 games so far and has held his own, as have Jensen and Ouellet.
"I got asked about the young D yesterday and the best way for me to answer it is they've all proven they can play in the league and now their job is to prove we can win with them being significant pieces," Blashill said. "When you're in the lineup, the record reflects the job you do, so I think we've had a good record here the last little bit, the more games we win when they're in the lineup, the more it says they not only can play in the league but they can help us win."
HELM HOPEFUL: Darren Helm has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury but he has been skating.
Helm was one of the few who took part in the optional morning skate and said he might be able to play tonight.
"Yeah, it feels good skating," Helm said. "So there's a good chance. We haven't 100 percent made up our minds. Just going to go talk to Blash and see what he wants to do."
CAROLINA ROLLING: The Carolina Hurricanes have been on a roll of late, going 7-0-3 in their last 10 games.
They have 79 points in 73 games and sit 11th in the Eastern Conference, five points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild-card spot.
"They're playing good, obviously," Blashill said. "They've got good goaltending in this stretch. I think they've played real hard all year. They've got one of the best penalty kills in the league. Their power play started off great, so it's got greatness in it for sure. It'll be a big challenge. They're going to be tight, they don't give you lots of space. If you look over the last little bit, we've been tight, we haven't given lots of space, so it should be good hockey, from a coaching perspective at least. I'm not sure from a fan perspective."
Eddie Lack, who is 5-1-0 in his last six starts, was the first goaltender off the ice this morning and is likely to make his third consecutive start.
Jeff Skinner has seven goals in his last five games and points in six straight. Skinner has 10 goals in his last 10 games.
Elias Lindholm, 22, has a team-best 10-game point streak with four goals and seven assists in that span.