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Wings lose game and Ericsson

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Ericsson suffered a fractured left wrist in his first shift of the second period in the Red Wings' 4-3 loss to Colorado Saturday night at JLA. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – Ken Holland was asked this week about the Red Wings stockpiling defensemen with the re-acquisition of Kyle Quincey.

“I’d rather have too many than not enough,” was the general manager’s reply.

Holland’s philosophy was spot on, as the Wings lost more then a 4-3 decision to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night, they also lost Jonathan Ericsson for a month with a fractured left wrist.

Ericsson was injured during his first shift of the second period when he was struck by a puck above the glove from a Gabriel Landeskog shot in the slot.

“Everybody wants depth at this time of year,” Holland said. “It’s the NHL, it’s a physical game, there’s going to be injuries.”

Fortunately for the Wings, they have a surplus of defensemen with Jakub Kindl and Mike Commodore in town, and veteran Doug Janik and rookie Brendan Smith down in Grand Rapids. The Wings can expand the roster without restrictions beginning Monday once the NHL trade deadline passes.

Ericsson was one of five Wings to play in every game this season, joining Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen.

Ericsson has a goal and nine assists while averaging nearly 17-minutes of ice-time this season.

The absence of a sixth defenseman certainly didn’t help the Wings who already found themselves trailing Colorado, 2-0, to start the second period Saturday.

“We were short one guy,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You have to rotate five D and you’re kind of switching up the partners, but I felt we sorted it out well. We still had some breakdowns in the third, but I still felt that we were able to find our groove with different partners.”

Breakdowns and giveaways, particularly in the defensive zone really were major flaws for the Wings.

“You want to correct it, especially in our own zone, defensively,” Lidstrom said. “I thought we had some defensive zone breakdowns that they capitalized on, we were out of position and weren’t covering the man that we were supposed to. That hurt us.”

Whether or not it was a hangover from the NHL record 23-game home winning streak that was snapped this week, the Wings were stung early by the Avalanche, who popped in a pair of goals in the first three-minutes of the game.

It was the first time since Dec. 27 that the Wings trailed by two goals in a game at home when the Avs got a goal from Landeskog – his first of two on the night – and a short-handed tally by David Jones just 67-seconds apart.

Playing in his third game since being dealt for Quincey from Tampa Bay, Steve Downie played a pivotal role in helping Colorado. The Philadelphia Flyers’ first-round draft pick in 2005, Downie (three points) setup Landeskog’s goal with a fortuitous bounce that ricocheted off Darren Helm’s skate into the low slot, where the rookie slipped an off-balance shot into the back of the net.

Moments later, after the Wings went on the game’s first power play, the Avs capitalized on a miscue when Quincey got knocked to the ice by a sliding Chuck Kobasew as he attempted a clearing pass. By taking out Quincey’s legs, the pass went awry and was intercepted by Jones, who whistled a snap shot above Jimmy Howard’s trapper.

Ericsson’s defensive partner for the past two games has been Quincey, who together had formed a big, menacing third pairing. But without Ericsson in the game, Quincey managed to get acquainted to the other four D-men.

“It gave me a chance to play with everybody, that’s for sure,” said Quincey, who registered one shot and three hits on his former teammates. “But Big E is a big loss for us and hopefully it’s not too serious and we can get him back soon.”

The Wings managed to fight their way back into the game, scoring three times in the final period, getting a pair of goals from Jiri Hudler and another from Valtteri Filppula. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a lackluster beginning to the game.

“It's unacceptable to play like that, to be as poor as we were tonight,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We had a rally in the third period but for two games, and probably for three, we haven't had much energy. We'll have a day off tomorrow, skate on Monday. Get ready to play. You can't win like this, we got to be better, play harder. It wasn't good enough.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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