(Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)
While Pittsburgh's place in the Stanley Cup playoffs is all but secured, the Red Wings are in a fight to qualify for the 23rd consecutive season. Detroit took a big step Tuesday with a 3-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs that moved them one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot and five behind Toronto with three games in hand.
By far the most banged up team in the league and already missing nine forwards, the injuries continue to pile up as Detroit lost their number two defenseman, Jonathan Ericsson, for the remainder of the regular season on Tuesday. Ericsson underwent surgery Wednesday to have pins inserted in his broken left middle finger. Nevertheless, the Wings will keep plugging away, and with Big E out for 4-6 weeks, Mike Babcock will pair Brendan Smith with Niklas Kronwall for tonight's game.
"He's just got to compete hard and make good decisions with the puck," Babcock said. "Smitty's got the competitive nature you need, he's got the skating you need, the skill you need. His decision making with the puck gets him in trouble at times and his decision making being active, so those are things you grow with, you become a better player. Do more by doing less, make the simple play, don't force things, lots of shifts are 50-50, nothing happens."
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You can watch tonight's 7:30 PM matchup on Fox Sports Detroit, or listen in with Ken Kal and Paul Woods on 97.1 The Ticket or AM1270.