— Anaheim Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski looked fine and sounded fine when he talked about the shot from Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk
that left him with a bruised lung.
It was another shot moments later in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals that had Wisniewski making some choice comments a day later. After being felled by Datsyuk’s blast, the 25-year-old blueliner took an elbow to the face from Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom
, a play Wisniewski called "gutless."
"I remember getting hit in the face," Wisniewski said. "That’s pretty much about it. I was kind of out of it the whole time when I was skating around. I looked back and I see that it was a blatant elbow. I was just hunched over, coughing up blood and I get a blatant elbow without even battling or anything.
"A little bit of a gutless play by one of their players."
Holmstrom defended his actions following practice Wednesday, saying he didn’t realize that Wisniewski was behind him or that he was injured. The Red Wings didn’t skate Thursday and the rugged winger was unavailable to respond to Wisniewski’s comments.
"I didn’t even know he was behind me," Holmstrom told NHL.com Wednesday. "That’s not the way I play, cheap shots like that. That’s unfortunate. I tried to fight for my position and I just got loose."
Wisniewski didn’t buy Holmstrom’s reasoning.
"I saw three different replays," he said. "And if you look at it, he looks over his left shoulder and just gives a nice little elbow right when I’m just hunched over not even doing anything. I mean, if he says he didn’t, I have to believe him. But you can see it.
"If it was Chris Pronger, I think all you media guys would be making a big deal about how dirty the Anaheim Ducks are. But it’s the Detroit Red Wings, [so] I guess it’s all OK."
Wisniewski didn’t rule out a return for Game 5 on Sunday in Detroit, though it will be up to the Ducks’ medical staff to give him clearance. He was released from UCI Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon after being taken off the ice on a stretcher in the latter stages of the second period Tuesday night.
The affable defenseman, who’s become a key deadline-day acquisition from Chicago for Samuel Pahlsson, said he wouldn’t be able to resume any off-ice conditioning activities until Friday after the Ducks arrive in Detroit.
"It’s all up to my body," Wisniewski said. "Hopefully we’re going to try to ride the bike tomorrow and get a little exercise in there to see how my breathing is and hopefully I can dress on Sunday.
"I need to talk to the doctors," he added, "and have them check me out and make sure that I can breathe properly and everything. See if everything’s working OK and I’m not coughing up any more blood."
The fact Wisniewski was hit by the puck and still tried to compete during the long shift in the Anaheim zone impressed Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
"That’s just kind of the character of the individual," Carlyle said. "We’ve been provided with that on numerous occasions. Be it blocking a shot or being prepared to take a check to make a play. That’s the kind of character that he’s demonstrated since we acquired him from Chicago."
Carlyle didn’t indicate who he would move into the lineup but he’ll likely pick between rookies Brett Festerling and Brendan Mikkelson, who both came up from Iowa of the American Hockey League this season to help fill in while the Ducks battled injuries to their blue line.
Festerling recorded five assists in 40 games with Anaheim while Mikkelson had two assists in 34 games.
"It’s a playoff game against Detroit," said Festerling, who faced the Red Wings twice during the season. "You don’t need to do too much to get up. It’d be my first playoff game if I was to get in. I’m excited that I might have that opportunity."
The Red Wings will still be without defenseman Brian Rafalski and center Kris Draper for Game 4 as both continue to nurse undisclosed upper-body injuries. Rafalski has sat out the entire series while Draper has yet to play in a postseason game.
Rafalski was riding a stationary bike Wednesday and said he’s made a lot of improvement since injuring himself during the break following Detroit’s four-game sweep of Columbus in the first round.
"I’m much closer than I was several days ago," Rafalski said. "I want to play as soon as I’m able."