Changes are coming, and they're starting already. Morning skate was a flurry of player exchanges, Babcock's line blender, babies (ok, just one), injuries, confusion, uncertainty, and had a feeling of "everything is happening!".
Here's the big news:
- Darren Helm was officially recalled from Grand Rapids, though he's still not eligible to come off IR yet, and can't play until Saturday at the earliest.
- Luke Glendening was sent back to Grand Rapids and it looks like Franzen will center the 2nd line, Weiss the 3rd, while Andersson falls to the 4th line.
- Ericsson did not skate today, and juuust before I tossed my cookies at the thought of being without our entire top D-pairing, news came out that he wasn't believed to be hurt, rather his wife/girlfriend went into labor last night and I suddenly felt better. THEN Khan said Riggy hurt his shoulder late in Saturday's game and won't play tonight. Sooooo *barf*
- Xavier Ouellet was recalled from Grand Rapids and will make his NHL debut paired with Brendan Smith. regarding Ouellet being called up instead of Adam Almqvist or Ryan Sproul... Ouellet can play the stay at home, smart, defensive, stabilizing role better than the other two, and since he''ll be paired with Smith, that's what we need. Almqvist and Sproul are both more offensively minded, and especially with Sproul, apt to take more risks. Ouellet is a very smart kid who can better bring the balance needed to our 3rd pairing. Talk about trial by fire for Ouellet, to be playing in his first real (preseason doesn't count) NHL game, against the Sharks, with Brendan Smith, while we're missing both our top 2 defensemen. If Ouellet and Smith can manage just to hold their own, I think I'll be happy. I have faith in Ouellet, because he's good, he smart, and he's going to be good, but this is an incredibly tough assignment to draw for his first one.
- In the absence of Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser was moved up to the top pairing with Ericsson. He'll remain in that spot, joined by Kyle Quincey tonight. DeKeyser is playing in his 21st NHL game, and handling these emergency responsibilities (20+min/night, top line competition etc...) like a real pro. He's been a very impressive player to me, and I'm very, very, very thankful he's ours.
- Tatar is in tonight and slated to play on the 3rd line. Cleary, Weiss, and Tatar should hopefully be able to take advantage of the 3rd line match-up.
- Jordin Tootoo is back in for Mikael Samuelsson
With all the lineup changes, here's what we're expecting to see tonight... at least to start the game.
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Justin Abdelkader|
|Todd Bertuzzi||Johan Franzen||Daniel Alfredsson|
|Daniel Cleary||Stephen Weiss||Tomas Tatar|
|Drew Miller||Joakim Andersson||Jordin Tootoo|
|Kyle Quincey||Danny DeKeyser|
|Brian Lashoff||Jakub Kindl|
|Brendan Smith||Xavier Ouellet|
|Tomas Hertl||Joe Thornton||Freddie Hamilton|
|Tyler Kennedy||Logan Couture||Patrick Marleau|
|Matt Nieto||Joe Pavelski||Tommy Wingels|
|James Sheppard||Andrew Desjardins||John McCarthy|
|Marc-Edouard Vlasic||Justin Braun|
|Matt Irwin||Brad Stuart|
|Scott Hannan||Jason Demers|