DETROIT – Rookie defenseman Brian Lashoff had a quizzical look on his face Monday morning when an assistant equipment manager handed him a red practice jersey.
“J.R. came up with the jersey and said, ‘You’re playing forward today,’” Lashoff said, following Monday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena.
Red practice jerseys are reserved for the team’s top six forwards. Defensemen and goalies wear black jerseys, while the bottom six forwards don white.
The 22-year-old Lashoff was called up following a rash of injuries along the blue line last week, and made his NHL debut in Columbus last Monday. It was there that the Albany, N.Y., native scored his first NHL goal on his first shot.
However, while scoring his first goal in and of itself was pretty sweet, skating on the same line with Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi, albeit just in practice, well …
“That was pretty cool,” Lashoff said. “Being on the line with Bert and Pav, that was pretty fun. It was a cool experience just to say that you’ve done it once in practice or whatever, but it was fun.”
Valtteri Filppula’s sore knee kept him out of Monday’s practice, which meant there was an opening on the second forward line as the team went through drills. And since the Red Wings had seven defensemen at practice, the coaches had Lashoff fill in at forward.
Lashoff has played in four games with the Wings, logging more than 17-minutes per game. He was called up to participate in the Wings’ mini-training camp earlier in the month, which he said, certainly helped prepare him for what he’s experienced in the big leagues so far. Camp gave the undrafted rookie a pretty good idea that he could eventually contribute to the Wings this season.
“It kind of gave me an idea that I’m in the plans as far as if they need me I have to be ready,” said Lashoff, who had two goals and four assists in Grand Rapids this season. “The camp really helped.”
Besides his first goal, Lashoff said he’s had a few other moments that have validity his NHL experience.
“I think maybe the first couple of games when I’ve been in certain situations as far as penalty-killing situations and being out there against some pretty good players,” he said. “You’re definitely sitting out there and saying, ‘OK, let’s get ready, because this is it.’ Yeah, I’ve definitely had a few of those.”
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