DETROIT — The Red Wings' defensive corps had just started developing some chemistry and continuity on the back end after playing 10 straight games together.
On Friday, the unit suffered its first loss of the season when Kyle Quincey left the game during the first period with a lower-body injury.
“It’s just with his ankle," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I don’t know if it’s long term or just a short term thing.”
The defensive group spent the remainder of the night with only five skaters but still held the Los Angeles Kings in check in the team’s 5-2 win.
“I mean Q has been around for so long, he’s seen it on different teams and he’s played quite a few games,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “To lose a veteran guy is very difficult, we’re hoping that it’s not going to be too long… You never want to lose anybody on the back end because everything seems to be working really well.”
In his 10th NHL season, Quincey was one of the more experienced members of a particularly young defense. With 384 games playing for three different NHL teams, Quincey provided valuable experience to offset the youth on the back end. Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith are two of the younger defensemen at 24 and 25 years old, respectively. Quincey’s replacement, however, would be the youngest of the unit, 24-year-old Brian Lashoff.
“Any time you lose anybody, it’s a huge loss,” Smith said. “It also opens up a door for someone else to come in and play well. That was an example of when you watch (Gustav) Nyquist and Tats (Tomas Tatar) come in, (Riley) Sheahan, all these guys that came in, (Luke) Glendening. The reason that they got that chance was because people went down. If he’s going to be out for a significant time, it opens the door for Lashoff or somebody else. I think Lash would fill in very well because he knows the system and he’s been very good at it.”
Lashoff hasn’t played in a regular-season NHL game since April 13 when the Wings shut out the St. Louis Blue 3-0. He has played in 106 regular-season games including 75 last season, scoring one goal and six points with a negative-two rating.
“He’s a great penalty killer,” Babcock said about Lashoff. “He’s a real good teammate, he’s a big body, he moves the puck, he’s smart. He’s a real good player. Lash has been real good for us over the last two or three years and we expect the same thing when he gets an opportunity.”
Quincey has a history of injuries including back and groin issues but Friday’s game was his 98th consecutive regular-season games for the Wings dating back to April 14, 2013. He was one of only two skaters to appear in all 82 regular-season games last season — Drew Miller being the other. If Quincey is to miss any significant action, it could turn out to be a major blow to the team just days before starting a three-game road trip, which begins Sunday in Buffalo.
“He’s been playing great for us,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “He’s not one of those guys every single night that’s going to show up on your stat sheet or anything like that but he’s been doing a great job on the back end, breaking up 2-on-1s, using his stick well and blocking out in front for me. He’s a big body back there and it will be tough if we lose him.”