Lilja's been a pleasant surprise for the Wings this season. For a while it seemed as if he might not even play another game in the NHL but a turn for the better stopped his headaches and he was cleared by team doctor's to play. In the 17 games he has played since March 1, he has scored a goal and added an assist while evening out in the +/- column.
Lilja's averaging about 14 minutes of ice time per game and his shot blocking has helped the penalty kill greatly. He's been on the ice for only one power play goal against in the 31 minutes he's spent out there. In effect, that's about 14.5 minor penalties he has been on the ice for that have been killed off. His shot blocking has averaged out at about 1 per game and he's dishing out about 2 hits per game as well. Not bad for a guy that missed a year of NHL action.
Other line-up notes:
Dan Cleary will stay with Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves on the third line. Helm and Cleary both scored in Sunday's loss at Philadelphia. I like this change because it adds more scoring touch (Cleary) to a pair (Helm, Eaves) that are a speed threat. They can stretch the defense with their speed and hopefully capitalize on poor positioning. It also brings a little bit of chemistry and balance with Kris Draper going to the line of Drew Miller and Jason Williams.
Jimmy Howard will start in net tonight after taking a game off for in Philadelphia. Howard has carried the Red Wings in net and will be gearing up for the playoff push.
Full lines, via Khan, after the jump.