CHICAGO – Mikael Samuelsson has suffered a setback in his recovery from a strained pectoral muscle. He will be replaced in tonight’s Game 1 lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks by center Cory Emmerton, who was a healthy scratch in the Red Wings’ Game 7 victory at Anaheim.
Until last Sunday, Emmerton had played in every regular-season and playoff game for the Wings this season. He will open the Western Conference semifinals series as fourth-line center between wingers Patrick Eaves and Todd Bertuzzi.
Emmerton had no points and was a minus-4 in the series against the Ducks, where he also struggled in the face-off circle, winning just 37.8 percent of his draws.
Coach Mike Babcock alluded this morning that he would like to see Emmerton maintain a high compete level in this next series.
“You have to look at the guy across from you, you have to fight for your piece of the ice, and you have to do it on every shift,” Babcock said. “If you do that you get to stay in the lineup each and every night and never ever have to worry on off days. Just relax on off days because you know you’re in.”
Emmerton said he hopes that he doesn’t have to be a spectator again this spring.
“You don’t want to watch ever. I got to watch and it wasn’t a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ll do my best to not get in that situation again.
“Everything’s a learning lesson as you go along in your career. You do what you can do move forward and keep getting better.”
As for Samuelsson, tonight will be the 47th game this season that he’s sat out due to an injury.
“I played Sunday and know it’s Wednesday and the next game’s not till Saturday so we’ll see what happens,” he said.
When asked if he’s beyond frustrated with the injuries that continue to plague him, Samuelsson said, “Yeah you can say that.”
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