DETROIT – Two years ago Xavier Ouellet made his Stanley Cup playoff debut in an elimination game.
Now it seems the former second-round pick from the 2011 draft may make his second NHL postseason appearance tomorrow – also in a game that could be the last of the Red Wings’ season.
With Alexey Marchenko day to day with a head injury, the club decided Wednesday to recall Ouellet from their minor-league affiliate.
It sounds as if coach Jeff Blashill isn’t so sure Marchenko will feel up to playing after he crashed head first into the boards midway through the second period of Sunday’s Game 3 win. Marchenko, who needed 12 stitches to close one large gash as well as a second smaller one over his left eye, was a late scratch Tuesday.
Without Marchenko for Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Kyle Quincey will remain in the lineup as he did in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series, which Detroit trails three games to one heading into Thursday’s game at Amalie Arena.
Blashill said Ouellet was accompanying the team Wednesday afternoon to Tampa but the 22-year-old defenseman will only be inserted into the Game 5 lineup if someone other than Marchenko is added to the game-day injury list.
“We’ll go with the six defensemen we had dressed (Tuesday) if Marchenko is unavailable, which I suspect he will be unavailable,” Blashill said. “So Xavier is our seventh D right now and if something were to happen, somebody were to get sick, maybe an injury creeps up that we didn’t realize was as big, then maybe he’ll go in. But other than that, no.”
Ouellet played in five games with the Red Wings this season. He had one assist with a minus-2 rating while playing in place of Jonathan Ericsson (lower-body injury) in mid-February.
Ouellet made his Stanley Cup playoff debut during the Wings’ first-round series against Boston in 2014. He replaced Jakub Kindl in the lineup for Game 5.
Ouellet just finished his third full season with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League. In 61 regular-season games, the Wings’ second-round draft pick from 2011 produced four goals and 29 points – third most among team defensemen. His 25 assists and 29 points are personal bests since he turned pro in 2013.
“Ouellet is brought up as insurance in case something else happens to any of our other D where he needed to go in,” Blashill said. “We didn't want to be caught without enough D.”