ROMULUS, Mich. – Brian Lashoff will become the sixth Red Wings’ player to make his NHL postseason debut this week when he dresses tonight for Game 3 in the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena.
The 23-year-old defenseman is being pressed into service after fellow rookie Danny DeKeyser suffered a fractured right thumb late in the third period of Thursday’s Game 2 win.
DeKeyser’s injury occurred when Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri checked him below the goal line in the Red Wings’ zone. Moments later, Palmieri scored to cut the Ducks’ deficit to 4-3 at 12:31 of the third period.
“Kind of came in to hit me and my hand went into him as he hit me, just kind of bent it back and I guess it snapped,” said DeKeyser, who played in 13 straight games since making his NHL debut on April 5. “I could feel it right away, it didn't feel right at all. I was a little nervous to actually take my glove off and look at it. I knew right away it wasn't good.”
Defensive depth gives coach Mike Babcock options as Lashoff, Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian White have been healthy scratches in the first two games of the series. While veteran experience is usually preferred, Babcock likes Lashoff’s competitiveness.
“He’s just smart. He knows how to play and he competes hard,” Babcock said. “He makes a good first pass and he’s a good penalty killer.”
Babcock said that Lashoff will begin the game partnered with Jakub Kindl, who set-up the Wings’ lone goal in Game 1.
DeKeyser averaged 18 ½ minutes of ice-time in the series while joining four other Red Wings – Kindl, Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner and Brendan Smith – who all played in their first Stanley Cup playoff game in last Tuesday’s series-opener at Honda Center.
DeKeyser was a spur in the Ducks’ side in Game 2, especially veteran Teemu Selanne, who took exception to the rookie when he finished a check in the neutral zone earlier in the third. Selanne responded by throwing a pair of punches at DeKeyser’s head. For his indiscretion, the Ducks’ forward earned a roughing minor.
“I was just finishing my hit,” DeKeyser said. “I guess he didn't like it too much. I thought it was a clean hit”
DeKeyser said that he’ll likely need surgery to repair the thumb, though a timetable has not been determined, he said.
“It’s a big loss,” Babcock said. “It’s hard to believe a kid out of college would be a big loss, but he is. He’s played real well for us. We just have to keep on going. That’s the playoffs.”
BERTUZZI’S RETURN: Todd Bertuzzi returned to the Red Wings’ lineup for Game 2, replacing agitator Jordin Tootoo on the team’s fourth line with center Cory Emmerton and winger Patrick Eaves.
While it wasn’t easy for Bertuzzi, who missed the last three months with a sore lower back, it was playoff hockey, he said.
“It’s a whole different level as far as speed,” Bertuzzi said. “You’re just trying to go as fast as you can. Generally, that’s not my game, but you’re just trying not to make mistakes out there. I got one game under my belt and we got a win, which is the most important thing.”
Bertuzzi, who last played on Feb. 7 in St. Louis, didn’t have much of an impact in Thursday’s game, taking 11 shifts while logging 7:14 of ice-time – both team lows – against the Ducks. He had one shot on goal to go with his one hit, which came on his last shift of the first period when he body-checked Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen at 16:21.
“Playoffs are 50 times the level than the regular season is,” Bertuzzi said. “In a regular season game you can find your way through it. In the playoffs you don’t have time to find your way through it, because a loss can end your season.”
Bertuzzi did not play in the overtime, which ended when Gustav Nyquist lifted the Wings to a 5-4 victory at 1:21 of the fourth period.
PICKING IT UP: Through the first four periods of their Western Conference quarterfinals, all-star center Pavel Datsyuk was a sub-par 42.3 percent (12-of-28) in the faceoff circle.
But in the last 41 ½ minutes against the Ducks, the Russian superstar, who usually garners attention for his mystifying stick-handling and thievery of the puck in the neutral zone, won 18-of-21 draws – that’s an astonishing 85.7 percent – including the opening faceoff in overtime that lead to the Wings’ winning goal.
As a team, the Ducks were good on 25-of-65 faceoffs, which is a 38 percent success rate.
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