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Lashoff gains confidence, key role

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Defense - DET
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 5

SOG: 25 | +/-: -9
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Following a one-game stint in the American Hockey League this week, rookie defenseman Brian Lashoff will find himself back in the Red Wings’ lineup tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena.

Lashoff’s quasi-demotion was necessary to make room on the roster for Carlo Colaiacovo, who returned to the lineup on Monday following a two-plus month recovery from a sprained shoulder. But with the passing of the NHL’s trade deadline on Wednesday, teams are permitted to expand the 23-man roster through the end of the playoffs. Hence, Lashoff’s return.

“I didn’t really have to be too bumped about it,” said Lashoff, of going to the minors this week. “But it was fun to go down there.”

On Tuesday, Lashoff flew from Detroit to Houston, where he helped the Griffins to a 5-1 win with a plus-2 rating. He will replace veteran Ian White in tonight’s lineup against the Coyotes for his playing ability on the penalty kill, coach Mike Babcock said.

“Whitey can help us on the power play, so it's a trade-off there today,” Babcock said. “We decided to put Colaiacovo in that (power play) spot. … We're concerned about the penalty kill. We gave up a penalty kill goal last game we didn't think we should have. Lash solidifies that. He's a simple player who plays the game that way and we like what he does.”

Lashoff has gained the respect of the coaches, who in return, have relied on him in short-handed situations all season. Lashoff has logged the third-most penalty-kill minutes on the team, averaging 2:17 of short-handed ice-time.

“Penalty killing is something I like doing, I like blocking shots. Keep it simple from the first day I got here,” said Lashoff, who has been with the Wings, basically, since the second game of the season.

The defensive unit was in shambles with every defensemen – with the exception of Niklas Kronwall and Lashoff – missing some length of time because of a multitude of injuries. Lashoff didn’t play in the Wings’ last game, but it certainly speaks to the faith that the team has in him that the 22-year-old is back in the lineup.

“Now that there's a lot of options it's only going to be better for the team,” Lashoff said. “It's only going to make competition for jobs better. It'll be fun.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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