DETROIT – On Wednesday, the Red Wings learned they will be without Danny DeKeyser for 3-6 weeks.
The rookie defenseman suffered a separated left shoulder during a collision with Nashville forward Partic Hornqvist during Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Predators.
It’s the second major injury of DeKeyser’s young NHL career. He fractured his right thumb during the Wings’ opening-round playoff series, which required season-ending surgery last May.
Despite going on long-term injured reserve, the good news for DeKeyser is he won't need to undergo surgery this time.
“What are you going to do?” Wings coach Mike Babcock asked. “He got hurt last year too, if I’m not mistaken. You just got him and started liking him and he got hurt, so people get hurt. That’s hockey.”
“The more depth that you have the less you notice it,” Babcock said. “Lash is a guy was supposed to be the seventh D. I don’t know how many games Lash has played? Pretty much every game, so whether it is Smitty, whether it is DeKeyser, guys get hurt. That’s life.”
Since signing with the Red Wings last April as an undrafted rookie free agent, DeKeyser has become a bona fide NHL talent. Before his injury, DeKeyser had gained the confidence of the Red Wings’ coaching staff, which earned him big minutes and even some power-play time.
DeKeyser is third among Wings’ defensemen in average ice-time (20:51) and second in points (nine), plus/minus (plus-5) and blocked shots (36). But with DeKeyser sidelined, that means Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl are the lone Red Wings' defensemen not to miss a game this season.
“It’s a big break for us,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “He’s been playing unbelievable for us here. I thought he started the season really well and I think he’s just been building off of that and gotten even better.
“We had really good momentum going with him. I know he’s sad about being out of the lineup and not being able play for a while. I’ve been through that too with the same thing, he’s a young guy and will come back quickly.”
Ericsson and Smith have recently returned to the lineup from recent shoulder injuries. Smith, who returned Tuesday after missing six games with a separation, knows he must take advantage of his opportunity.
“They’ve had (DeKeyser) higher than me in the pecking order,” Smith said. “It’ll be a little bit of a door for me, try to step into it and play a little more minutes. It’ll be nice. Hopefully I can prove I can play more specialty teams and more minutes.”
“I got to still play my game. There’s going to be some situations where I’m going to be able to get those chances. I just have to attack them head on and don’t get too anxious or excited and just play.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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