– With injuries to Niklas Kronwall
(clavicle) and Brian Rafalski (groin), the Red Wings will deploy a jumbled trio of defensive pairings tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
According to coach Mike Babcock, the defensive pairings will be Nicklas Lidstrom
and Chris Chelios, Brett Lebda and Andreas Lilja, and Derek Meech and newly recalled Kyle Quincey
“We’ll see how everything goes and we’ll make the adjustments to help us win,” Babcock said.
Quincey was forced into the Wings’ lineup last spring when Mathieu Schneider went down with a fractured wrist in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against San Jose.
Unfortuately, Quincey was a victim of a broken hand during training camp last September. Before the injury, it was believed that he had a very good chance of beginning this season in Detroit.
“Injuries happen and the timing of that one wasn’t very good,” Quincey said. “It was kind of a fluke play. I was playing through it. I thought I was playing decent even with the broken hand. This is like my second opportunity, I guess.”
In 45 games this season in Grand Rapids, Quincey has two goals and eight assists. The Wings hope that his physical style will give a boost to the back-end.
“I haven’t seen him (lately), so I can’t tell you a whole bunch,” Babcock said. “He played real well for us last year at playoff time. He had an unfortunate incident in training camp where he got hurt. So he never got the opportunity, the team got going good, we had no injuries on the back-end, we were winning on a regular basis, he never got the call.”
Not that Quincey has gotten the call, he hopes to make the most of his chances.
“Personally, I had a little bit of a slow start,” said Quincey, who appeared in 13 playoff games last year. “As of right now, I feel that I’m playing a lot better. Physically playing a lot better. I got into a few scraps last weekend and feel good about myself. Hopefully I can carry that on to tonight.
“I know that opportunities don’t come along too often, so I have to make the best of it. Hopefully, I can show them that I’m a playoff player and I can grind like I did last year in the playoffs.”
While he was pointless in the playoffs, the experience alone was beneficial.
“I learned that I can play in this league and I can play with the best players, so that gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “Just to see how the game picks up physically in the playoffs, everyone is at the top of their game. Every mistake is huge. Just keep it simple, that is what I learned last year in the playoffs.”
Asked about what he expects from tonight’s game, Quincey said, “I don’t expect anything. Every shift I am very grateful for and I’ll make the best of it.”
As for Babcock?
“We’re big believers here in Detroit that you bring them here when they’re ready or over-ready, rather then before they are ready,” Babcock said. “We’ll see how it goes here. It’s not like we’re planning on him being here long-term. … There’s always opportunity for good players.”
The league-leading Wings (41-13-5) are currently on a season-long four-game losing skid, one that Babcock would like to see end tonight.
“We have to get back on track,” he said. “Any time you’ve been through four games and you have one point things aren’t going as good. There are going to be times during the year when things don’t go well, but we have to get back to competing hard and out-working the other team … It’s a real simple game then it comes right down to it.”