A deflected puck hit captain defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom in the face resulting in 25 stitches above the eye, an eye swollen shut, and a broken nose. The injury came early in the Wings first exhibition game, which took place at home against Montreal. He is expected to miss three games, but will most certainly be ready for regular season action.
“He’s got a broken nose, but no damage to the cheek or eye, so everything's fine,” Babcock said. “I mean, he got hit in the head with a puck, and so he's not feeling good today - he didn't even come to the rink today; he'll be back here tomorrow and then he'll be rolling in no time.”
As we saw last year, Lidstrom's absence from the line-up certainly has a negative impact on the team's success, but we can be thankful that this injury was just a broken nose instead of an injury reminiscent of Steve Yzerman's 2004 playoff injury in the second round against Calgary that required a five hour surgery to repair broken orbital bones. Both Yzerman and Kris Draper started wearing visors after their facial injuries so it'll be interesting to see if Lidstrom will start wearing a visor upon return from the injury.
With only one (two at most) defensive spot undecided, head coach Mike Babcock needed to use these exhibition games to determine who will earn the position anyways. As of right now, it appears that Kyle Quincey and Derek Meech are the two players fighting for it. Quincey played in the 2007 playoffs when defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Mathieu Schneider went down with injuries. Should he not make the team, expect him to be traded because the team would most certainly lose him on waivers if they were forced to send him back to Grand Rapids. Meech played with the Wings last season and while he did not play a ton of games, the team was successful in lobbying the NHL to put his name on the Cup.
Quincey (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) is bigger and more physical than Meech (5-11, 197) but isn't as skilled. That has been evident in his two preseason games, as he's had trouble handling the puck. But Babcock said he isn't reading anything into that.
"(Quincey) is not a puck guy, he's a defender," Babcock said. "Depending on who you play with, when you got to do more with the puck by yourself because your partner isn't the same as it would be (in a regular game), then maybe you try to do a little more. I think Quincey's been fine."
The Wings are about $300,000 over the salary cap so one of four defensemen will likely be traded to bring the team under the cap maximum of $56.7 million. The four likely candidates? Meech, Quincey, Brett Lebda, or Andreas Lilja. Wings' fans wouldn't be bummed to see Lilja leave Detroit in a trade, but the team values his experience and he just signed a two year deal this summer so I don't know if he will be the Wings' ideal trade bait.
In other news, Pavel Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski did not play in the Wings 2-1 loss to Boston on Friday due to injury. Rafalski reportedly has a sore groin, but Datsyuk's injury remains unknown. Neither appear to be long-term problems and the team just seems to be taking appropriate precautions since it's just pre-season.