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Notes: DeKeyser set to return; Rasmussen placed on IR

Red Wings concerned about their game, not the slumping Ducks

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT- Defenseman Danny DeKeyser is expected to be back patrolling the Red Wings blueline against the Ducks Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena after missing Detroit's last 19 games with an injured left wrist.

DeKeyser was injured on December 4 versus the Lightning when a Steven Stamkos shot caught him square on his left wrist.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We gotta keep going."#ANAvsDET | #LGRW pic.twitter.com/H99msYbG3F

"I feel good. My wrist is feeling good," DeKeyser said after Tuesday's morning skate. "I haven't had any issues with it for a while now. It's just going to be getting out there and getting my feet back under me, getting into game conditioning because obviously that's a lot different than skating in practice. I look to get back up to speed quick."

Since it was an upper-body injury, DeKeyser was able to skate, so he's hopeful he'll be up to full speed almost as soon as he hits the ice for the first time in weeks.

"I was able to skate the last six weeks so that was definitely a huge benefit," DeKeyser said. "I'm looking to just get right back in there and hopefully after a few shifts or a period, I'm feeling good again and playing good. We'll see how it goes. I'm just excited.

DeKeyser feels his biggest adjustment may be mental, not physical, since he has not played in a game for 41 days.

"It's just like mentally out there, too, the game's so fast," he said. "It's just reading plays, going back to get pucks on breakouts, hitting guys out of your own zone, stuff like that. It's the mental side of things just as much as it is physical."

With DeKeyser back in the Wings lineup, there was speculation Detroit would have to make a roster move, but Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill put the speculation to rest.

"We're putting Ras (Michael Rasmussen -- hamstring) on the IR, retro to his last game (Jan. 4) to the injury, so we're not going to make any move yet," Blashill said. "It's a seven-day IR, so he's already been out that long. He's not playing tonight. I don't foresee him being ready to play Friday. He hasn't practiced with us yet.

"Today was the first time he did anything. We were waiting for him to be pain-free and full range of motion before he could skate and yesterday was the first day of that so then you start the process of getting him back ready. I can't give you an exact date. Is it before the All-Star break? I don't know the answer to that."

Eventually the Wings will have to make a roster move and scratch a healthy player or two once Rasmussen and defenseman Trevor Daley are healthy. It's a situation that Blashill has referred to as a good problem to have in the past.

"When you bring an injured guy back into the lineup, a guy like Danny DeKeyser, who's one of your top D, that certainly doesn't mean that anybody played bad to come out," Blashill said. "Anybody that comes out has played pretty good hockey in the last little bit. I think our process over the last number of games has been good. Our defense has been good. Our zone time has been good. All those things.

"Every defenseman has an argument of why they should stay in, but those are good problems. Having an opportunity to bring a guy who we think is night in and night out one of our top two D makes you better regardless, and whoever comes out is not necessarily a reflection of poor play, it's just a decision we have to make."

Earlier this season, DeKeyser missed eight games with a hand injury. In total he's missed 27 games this season, but when he's been in the lineup, the Detroit native has not been flashy, but he has been solid. In 20 games played, DeKeyser has one goal among his seven points, is plus-4 with an ice time average of 21:17, third highest on the team behind only Mike Green (21:57) and Dylan Larkin (21:49).

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: .@DeKeyser5 and Coach Blashill preview tonight's matchup with the Anaheim Ducks. #ANAvsDET #LGRW pic.twitter.com/mCw2BWKJnQ

DUCKS' SKID NOT RED WINGS' FOCUS: When they were in the Western Conference, the Red Wings had an intense and competitive rivalry with the Anaheim Ducks.

Detroit was Anaheim's opponent when the Ducks played their first ever NHL game on Oct. 8, 1993 and since then, there have been many memorable moments over the years, including several playoff series featuring Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, a young upstart coach named Mike Babcock, whose eighth-seeded squad swept the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings in 2003, and who can forget Pavel Datsyuk's fight against Corey Perry on opening night on Oct. 8, 2010?

Yet, with both teams going through a transitional phase and not being in the same conference any longer, some of the series flair may be gone, but there is an intriguing storyline heading into Tuesday's night game.

Anaheim is winless in its last 11 games (0-7-4) but has played relatively well thanks in part to the play of goalie John Gibson.

Blashill was asked with Anaheim being a wounded Duck, is this a worst-case scenario the Wings could find themselves in?

"Best-case scenario would be if we had won 11 straight. I'm worried about our team. They played real hard in their last game against Winnipeg and didn't get the outcome they wanted. In that stretch of games, they've had a number of overtime losses. I know what that's like," Blashill said. "The winless part of it, you're still earning points, they're on the cusp of the playoffs. I'm worried about the Detroit Red Wings and us playing better hockey.

"I think we've played good in the last number of games. The Minnesota game was the first time we got the result for it, but we got to keep going, keep having the same focus we've had all year and that's getting better every day and focusing on the game ahead of us, we got a tough Anaheim team ahead of us."

Blashill knows with Gibson in net, the Wings will have to bring their best game.

"I've had a chance to know him as a player for a long, long time, right around the time he played for the national development program. He's an excellent goaltender, he fills the net well, I think he plays the percentages well," Blashill said. "On the nights when he's not totally on, the puck still hits him a lot because he plays the position well and yet most nights he is on.

"I think anytime you're facing a goalie of that caliber it's hard. You got to make it hard on them. We faced a good goalie in Minnesota and we made it really hard on him. We had a net presence, we had a number of tips, we had a lot of action around that third circle. We got to continue to do that."

Gibson is 15-14-8 on the year with a 2.75 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and one shutout.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Testing out the new buckets. @thehollandnativ pic.twitter.com/6V1tWwbKLP

RED WINGS GO NASCAR: Erik Jones, 22, one of the up and coming young drivers on the NASCAR circuit, paid a visit to the Red Wings during Tuesday's morning skate and the Bryon, Michigan native gave several players a racing helmet.

"It's the replica of what he wears during the race, I guess," DeKeyser said. "It's pretty cool, fully padded accessory and it's hot in there so I don't know how he does it. It's warm though."

Blashill also received a helmet and is a bit of a NASCAR fan.

"I had the opportunity to be the Grand Marshal at MIS two years ago and it was a cool, really unbelievable experience just to see how the teams work, everything that goes into it," Blashill said. "You have no idea what goes into it until you're kind of in the middle of it a little bit, the video work they do, all that stuff is incredible."

Jones said perhaps the speed of hockey and NASCAR are the only similarities between the two sports.

"The speed and how fast it looks, that's something that translates to NASCAR," Jones said. "Every sport is different and it's neat to see how each one operates. I've had a chance to be around some football teams and I've had the chance to be around some baseball players. Never really hockey.

"Down in North Carolina they don't have a lot of hockey going on, so I get to come back to Michigan and see that. It's cool to see their process, how they prepare. It's interesting to me that they start so early in the day. It's 10:30, 11 o'clock and we're skating and getting ready.

"It's cool to see that the preparation starts so early for a game. And really, the work ethic that they put in through the week and in practice for conditioning, I think hockey players are some of the best athletes in the world. Their conditioning and their strength is in my opinion pretty bar none."

When he was asked which current Red Wing he'd like to see ride shotgun with him during a race, Jones replied, "Probably (Tyler) Bertuzzi. He's obviously really good. I think he'd be pretty good out there, so it would be fun to have him come along."

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