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Smith injured; Almquist to make debut

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Rookie defenseman Adam Almquist doesn't shy away from the physical aspects of the game, but he will benefit from gaining size and strength. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – For all of the good feelings that came out of the Red Wings’ 5-0 victory at Edmonton on Saturday, there was one that struck a nerve.

With 41-seconds left in a game dominated by Detroit, defenseman Brendan Smith engaged the Oilers’ Will Acton in a fight that resulted in both combatants earning five-minute majors, while Smith sustained a slightly separated shoulder that has landed him on short-term injured reserve.

“He was very sore today, it appears it’s a minimum of a week,” Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit media in Winnipeg, where the Red Wings will play the Jets on Monday.

“We waited last night, wanted to see how he felt today,” Holland continued. “When (athletic trainer) Piet Van Zant saw him today, he said he’s very sore.”

Through 11 games, Smith has one assist and a team-high 19 penalty minutes and is tied with Kyle Quincey with a team-low minus-7 rating.

Already down a regular defenseman – with Jonathan Ericsson on long-term injured reserve also with a shoulder injury – the Red Wings have decided to recall rookie Adam Almquist from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.

Almquist will make his NHL debut Monday, becoming the third Wings’ prospect to make his debut in the league this season. Defenseman Xavier Ouellet and center Luke Glendening made their debuts last month.

It was during training camp and the exhibition season that Almquist caught the attention of Wings coach Mike Babcock, who was impressed then by the third-year pro. However, if there were a downside, it’s that Almquist, at 5-foot-11 and 174 pounds, is on the small side.

Still, recalling Almquist now, over other Griffins’ defensemen, will give the Wings an idea of how the young Swede measures up against NHL competition in a game that matters.

“It’s an opportunity for us to see what one of your young players can do,” Holland said. “He was an important part of Grand Rapids’ run to the Calder Cup last year, played in their top four. He quarterbacks the power play in the AHL. There’s a chance he could be on our second power-play unit. We think he gives us the best chance to win tomorrow night.”

The 22-year-old Almquist leads all Griffins’ defensemen with seven assists. He had two goals and two assists in five preseason games with the Red Wings.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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