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DeKeyser makes most of PP time

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser waits to clear a rebound after Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard makes this save on Capitals' captain Alex Ovechkin Friday night. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Prior to Friday’s game, rookie Danny DeKeyser had logged less than 10-minutes of ice time on the Red Wings’ power play.

But with Daniel Alfredsson scratched minutes before the Red Wings hosted the Washington Capitals, DeKeyser learned of his new assignment.

“Yeah after they said Alfie wasn’t going to play that they were going to put me on the second unit there,” DeKeyser said. “Anytime that coach calls your number it’s good. Then you just want to go out there and perform your best.”

Despite the Wings’ 4-3 shootout lost to the Capitals, DeKeyser was a bright spot, producing his first multi-point game on his young career.

“DeKeyser is helping the whole group,” Babcock said. “He’s got real good hockey sense, elite skater and real good defender. Whoever he plays with plays better. Real good players do that to their partner and linemates. That’s something that he’s come here and grabbed. It wasn’t very long ago we didn’t even know whether to put him in the lineup, give him a gratis game before we shut down for the year. Now he’s rolling along, he’s in our top three.”

DeKeyser now has eight points on the second, just three shy of Niklas Kronwall for the top scoring Wings’ defenseman. DeKeyser, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last season, has seven points in the last nine games.

“I thought I played well in some parts and obviously there are some parts of the game that I wish I could’ve replayed,” said DeKeyser, who logged 3:20 of power-play ice time against the Capitals. “But that’s how it goes sometimes and you know you just move on and get ready for tomorrow.”

The Red Wings, who have lost seven straight games on home ice left immediately after Friday’s game for Long Island where they will play the Islanders Saturday night.

DeKeyser’s second-period goal, his first at The Joe, gave the Red Wings a two-goal cushion, 3-1, over the Capitals. He also assisted on Johan Franzen’s first-period power-play goal that tied the score at 1-1.

“It was just a power play and Mule had the puck on the far wall, he was kind of walking down and I was on the far right,” DeKeyser said. “I just kind of tried to find a seam for him to give me the puck and he made a great pass, it was right in the wheelhouse and I just had to shoot it.”

The last time DeKeyser collected two points in a game was last October when he led Western Michigan with a goal and assist in the Broncos’ 2-1 win over Canisius.

“He’s a good defenseman and we saw that last year,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s nice to see when he got a chance on the power play that he took advantage of it right away. It was a good shot and a good feed from Mule, and he’s a good player.”

As for Alfredsson, the veteran forward is traveling with the team to New York where he will be re-evaluated in the morning. As a precaution, the Red Wings have recalled Luke Glendening in an emergency situation.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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