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Stitched-up Ericsson standing up for teammates

Wings have four fighting majors; Rangers next test; Abdelkader gets maintenance day

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Jonathan Ericsson didn't have time to think before the puck got him right in the forehead.

"I saw the puck coming up, it was kind of wobbling off his stick, initially I felt it was going to come towards my head," Ericsson said. "Had some traffic in between. Braced myself for the impact."

Ericsson left the ice immediately as the wound required 20 stitches. But he returned to the game before the midway point of the third period.

Ericsson is one of the few players that still does not wear a visor and says he still does not plan to do so.

"For me, when I played in Grand Rapids in the AHL, where everyone has to wear a visor, that visor would cut me all the time, on my nose or my lip, coming down, when you're going in the corner and bumping into someone that visor just comes down, it has pretty sharp edges," Ericsson said. "I got way more cuts on my face from wearing a visor for two years than I have been getting cuts from not wearing one for eight years. So for me, I'm getting less cuts from wearing one."

In addition to the stitches, Ericsson has also acquired two fighting majors in the first three games, tied for the league lead with Toronto's Matt Martin, a more noted pugilist who had 11 fights last season alone.

According to, Ericsson now has 14 total NHL fights, which includes one in the preseason and one in the postseason.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill has emphasized that he wants a close group of players.

"We want to be a team that looks after each other and sticks up for each other," Blashill said. "You want to have a feeling in your locker room that you care enough about the guy sitting next to you that you're going to look after him for sure and that there's no way that any opponent is going to take any liberties with our guys. I think we've done a great job of that so far and I'd expect us to continue to do a good job with that."

That's something that Ericsson certainly believes in.

"I think it allows me more to be on my toes, gets a little edge like that," Ericsson said. "The first one in Tampa, from the angle I had, it looked like it was a bad hit on X (Xavier Ouellet) and I just felt I had to do something. Yesterday you make a decision in a couple seconds and that was the decision that was made."

Blashill said he has never told a player to fight another player but he does appreciate what has happened so far this season.

"We didn't do it enough last year," Blashill said. "Probably it's not something that's been part of this room for a long time. Some of that's personalities in the room but I do think it was a point of emphasis. We've really talked about that fact we've got to win as a team. We can't win as individual players, we're going to have to win as a team and part of winning as a team is having that feeling of camaraderie that you want to look after each other."

RANGERS NEXT TEST: After facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, there's no break for the Wings as they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers scored seven goals in a 7-4 win over the San Jose Sharks Monday and are tied for the league lead in goals with 14.

"I think for us to be successful we have to play on our toes without giving up easy chances," Blashill said. "I think our D zone took a good step in the right direction last night. Our breakouts have overall been pretty good. We have to continue to play on our toes and not be giving up those chances. Every game in this league I think is a tough, tough challenge. I think tomorrow night will be a tough, tough challenge. It's just the reality of the league. We've got to play our best hockey every night in order to give ourselves a chance to win."

Both Blashill and Ericsson liked the way they started in Tampa.

"We were on our toes, we didn't give them anything, we had a lot of speed, we came up with speed together and then I think we got away from that," Ericsson said. "We never really entered the zones with speed together. It was kind of one guy coming in with speed and the other guys are kind of watching. We just have to work as a team and play fast as a team. 

"I think we did that at a lot of times yesterday but I think we have more. I know we got more."

CHANGES GOOD SO FAR: Blashill shifted the lines around for Monday night's game, putting Henrik Zetterberg with Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar; moving Justin Abdelkader and Riley Sheahan to Frans Nielsen's line and putting Andreas Athanasiou to the line with Luke Glendening and Drew Miller.

"I thought our line combinations were good last night," Blashill said. "I thought Zetterberg had his best game of the three. I thought he looked really good. I thought Tats probably had his best game of the three. So that was one line that was different. I thought the Nielsen line did a good job of checking. Glenny's line did a good job. Overall I thought the lines all did a good job."

MAINTENANCE DAY: Abdelkader did not practice Tuesday but is expected to play Wednesday in New York against the Rangers.

Blashill said it was just a maintenance day for Abdelkader.

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