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Stuart injury not serious, Babcock says

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT – Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart was injured early in the first period Thursday night, and immediately headed to the Wings’ dressing room. An official release stated that Stuart was questionable with a lower-body injury. He did not return to the ice for Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena.

However, Wings coach Mike Babcock said that Stuart will likely be ready to play in Saturday’s Game 5 in San Jose.

“Stewie’s one of those guys, it doesn’t matter, he just plays anyways,” Babcock said. “The doc checked him out, everything seems fine, and he’ll be ready to go next game.”

Stuart, who averaged over 23 minutes of ice-time in the regular-season, is one of three Wings to play in all 82 games of the campaign. In 11 playoff games, he has two goals and four assists with a plus-six rating.    

“Stewie’s been a very important part of our team,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “The way he’s been out there killing penalties, playing against the top lines, just being a big guy, tough body to play against. He’s so good at finishing checks, and playing so well in his own zone. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but he’s been doing a good job for us.”

Because of Stuart’s absence, the Wings were forced to lean on Jonathan Ericsson. The young defenseman, who typically averages 16:42 of ice-time, played for 27:33 and recorded four shots and five hits. He saw game action in all situations, including 3:15 on the power play, and 3:18 shorthanded.

Ericsson said he enjoyed the opportunity to earn more ice-time, which is something that is hard to obtain on a deep Wings’ defense.

“It’s always fun to play a lot; it’s a good challenge,” the 26-year-old Ericsson said. “I haven’t played this much in a while, so it was a lot of fun.”

Ericsson said he was unsure of Stuart’s situation throughout the game.

“I saw when he got hit – I was worried at first – but it looked like he was OK,” Ericsson said. “I think he just tried to play it a little bit cool so nobody knew he was hurt, but I guess it was more serious than I thought.”

Henrik Zetterberg said he expects Stuart to be ready to go for Game 5.

“Stewie’s been a huge part of this team, but he’s a fighter,” Zetterberg said. “I don’t think it was that bad, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to play.”

The last time Stuart missed time away from the game was in Feb. 2009. then he missed 14 games after he suffered a knee injury against the Sharks.

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