DETROIT – While the Red Wings claimed their first victory of the season on Monday in Columbus, they took another loss in the injury column.
Sometime during the 4-3 shootout win over the Blue Jackets, veteran winger Mikael Samuelsson re-aggravated the groin that he injured during last week’s training camp in Plymouth.
“It’s frustrating,” said Samuelsson, who is the eighth Wings’ player to suffer an injury or long-term illness in the first week of the season. “You come here, you want to obviously perform, but I’m used to it. I’ve been injured before. You’ve got to stay patient, especially with a groin. Work on it and come back stronger.”
Samuelsson’s absence creates a void on the second line, which will be filled in tonight’s home opener by speedy forward Gustav Nyquist, who was called up from Grand Rapids this morning.
“I expect him to be really good,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s thinks he’s an NHL player, we think he’s a top-two line NHL player we just haven’t had room for him here. We’re just trying to sort out our forwards. He’s going to play here on a line with (Johan) Franzen and (Valtteri) Filppula and play right on the power play.”
The Wings also lost another defenseman when Carlo Colaiacovo suffered a left shoulder injury in the third period of Monday’s game. It’s the same shoulder that he sprained while playing for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup last month. It’s expected that Colaiacovo, who will meet with team doctors later today, will miss a significant chunk of games.
Jonathan Ericsson will not play against the Dallas Stars tonight, sitting out his second straight game, after hurting a hip in practice on Sunday.
The injuries, especially those along the blue line, have already forced the coaching staff to making tweaks to their system, Babcock said.
“How we started and how we are right now we already changed just because of that. We had to,” he said. “I think we’re going to be way better than people think. I think we’re going to be a work in progress, but we’re going to be fine.”
With only five healthy defensemen available, and no veteran depth to choose from in Grand Rapids, the Wings felt it was necessary to find a veteran guy who brings experience, and can play on the penalty kill while playing safe and steady in the defensive zone.
The Wings signed 33-year-old Kent Huskins, who won a Stanley Cup as a rookie with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. The 6-foot-4 defenseman, who was on a professional tryout last weekend with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, will be in the Wings’ opening night lineup.
It’s expected that four players – Ericsson, Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (flu) and Jakub Kindl (groin) – will be healthy enough to return by Friday when the Wings host the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena.
The biggest relief for the Wings was learning that Bertuzzi, diagnosed with mononucleosis last Friday, tested negative for the virus on Monday. Instead of missing weeks, Bertuzzi will miss three games with the flu.
“I was excited to hear the news,” Bertuzzi said. “The last thing I want to do is spend a month in bed waiting to come back knowing that it would take two weeks to get going again. A month and a half pretty much lost, so I was happy with the news and will try to get back as soon as I can now.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose