DETROIT – Pointing to the middle of his left thumb, defenseman Brian Lashoff talked about his good fortune, something that’s foreign to most of his teammates this season.
“We don’t want anyone else injured because it’s tough with what we’ve been going through this year,” said Lashoff, who had X-rays of the thumb taken during the Red Wings’ last game at Columbus.
“I feel fine now,” he said. “You get those every once in a while, especially on the penalty kill when you’re blocking shots like that. It feels good and I’m ready to play.”
The Wings’ defenseman was struck by a Brandon Dubinsky wrist shot with 12:01 left in the second period of the Blue Jackets’ 4-1 win Tuesday. Once Lashoff managed to skate off the ice he noticed the immediate swelling in his thumb.
Lashoff estimates he missed two shifts while he had an X-ray, which came back negative. Lashoff is one of five Red Wings' regulars who started the NHL season and have not missed a game because of injury. Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar, Kyle Quincey and David Legwand are the others.
“It broke a blood vessel and swelled,” said Lashoff, who has blocked 71 shots this season. “I just kinda took it in the wrong spot on my thumb but luckily it wasn’t broken. It could have gone either way, so I went back after.”
The defensive corps is the Red Wings’ only unit that isn’t decimated by injuries right now. And because Detroit has lost four of five games this month – scoring six goals in those losses – the Wings can’t afford to have a defensive collapse while the young forwards like Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan, and now Teemu Pulkkinen, are trying to keep the offense afloat.
“I think you see the guys come up from Grand Rapids and what they’ve been able to do with Glenny and Shan and Jurcs when he was healthy, the guys have stepped up, played well and kept us in the hunt,” Lashoff said. “I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do and we’re confident with what we’ve got in the lineup so we can get some wins here and stay in the hunt and grab one of those playoff spots.”
Since returning from the Olympic break, the Red Wings have shifted to playoff mode with five weeks remaining, which they experienced last spring too. However, the Wings can’t continue to have third-period catastrophes, especially against an Oilers team that owns the worst record in the Western Conference.
“We had a bad third period in the last game and we know that and we can’t let that happened again,” Lashoff said. “We have to come out firing on all cylinders in this game. We have to put the last game behind us and come out and get a big win at home.”
According to coach Mike Babcock, the Red Wings are facing must-win situations from now until the end of the regular season.
“We talked about it after the Olympic break that we have to win two of every three (games),” Babcock said. “We got off to a good start with that and then we’ve lost two in a row. … We have to bounce back.”
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