Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Jumbling the defense

Injuries force defensive adjustments vs. Coyotes

Thursday, 10.28.2010 / 1:37 PM ET / News
By Michael Caples  - Detroit Red Wings Staff Writer
Share with your Friends

Jumbling the defense
DETROIT – When Brad Stuart came to the Red Wings in 2008, he had already played seven NHL seasons. But even he felt a little nervous the first time he played next to Nicklas Lidstrom.

“When I first got here, there was a game, I think it was in Columbus, where I played with him,” Stuart said of playing with the six-time Norris Trophy winner. “I don’t know what it was, I guess you feel a little bit more pressure, it’s hard to explain. I’m over it now, but at first…”

It’s a good thing that Stuart is over it now; he’s been paired up with the Wings’ captain once again. Coach Mike Babcock confirmed that the forward lines will stay intact Thursday when the Wings host Phoenix, but the defensive pairings have been shuffle with the injuries to Brian Rafalski and Jonathan Ericsson.

“The game plan coming out of training camp hasn’t worked out so well,” Stuart said, “but that’s the way it is. You get injuries, things happen, so you have to have the ability to change it up.”

Babcock said the Wings have been fortunate to only lose Justin Abdelkader up front, which has allowed him to keep the forward units together for the first month of the season.

“Obviously you’re getting to see a lot of things,” Babcock said about the pairings variations. “We haven’t had that with the forwards. We’ve been real fortunate that they’ve all been healthy, with the exception of Abby, who’s just coming back. So here we are, over the year there’s going to be lots of combinations on ‘D’, and up front, and we just have to find a way to make it all work.”

When asked about how players adapt to playing with superstars like Lidstrom, Babcock said that there is a learning curve.

“I think so for sure,” he said. “During the morning skate today, Abby went with (Henrik Zetterberg) twice and (Pavel Datsyuk) once, and Abby didn’t even think about taking a shot the whole time, didn’t matter if the guy was covered, he passed it to him. Why do you think that is? It’s not because they’re telling him to do that, that’s just the way it goes. ‘I’m supposed to give it to them’. That’s all part of becoming a good pro and figuring it all out.”

Stuart said that players feel added pressure to perform at their highest level when they are playing next to a player of Lidstrom’s stature.

“I guess you feel like there’s this expectation where you have to have the game of your life or else he’s going to be disappointed in you,” Stuart said. “That’s not the case, but that’s kind of how you feel when you first start.”

Babcock said he isn’t concerned about anyone who would be paired with the Wings’ captain.

“Well we haven’t had any trouble with anybody who’s played with Nick, ever,” Babcock said. “I don’t think that’s any surprise. But (Stuart) gives him a physical guy who can match-up and go get pucks for him, get over and make plays. It’s been good. I don’t know if that’s our best group when we get our six together that we envisioned playing at the start of the year, but it’s been a good pair for us at this point.”

When asked about what the pairings would be once all the defensemen are healthy, Babcock said he would like to pair Stuart with Rafalski, but he just has to work with who’s ready to play.

“I’m hoping to put him with Rafalski, but we’ll see,” Babcock said. “This fantasy we all have about when everyone’s healthy, it doesn’t really happen, so we’ll just keep plugging.”




1 MTL 23 17 4 2 83 50 36
2 NYR 22 16 4 2 66 42 34
3 WSH 21 15 5 1 66 47 31
4 OTT 22 12 5 5 70 61 29
5 PIT 21 13 8 0 48 49 26
6 BOS 21 12 8 1 68 61 25
7 NYI 22 11 8 3 62 53 25
8 DET 22 11 8 3 51 55 25
9 TBL 23 11 9 3 54 49 25
10 NJD 21 11 9 1 49 51 23
11 FLA 21 8 9 4 54 55 20
12 CAR 22 8 10 4 46 61 20
13 PHI 22 7 10 5 38 62 19
14 TOR 22 7 10 5 49 58 19
15 BUF 22 8 12 2 45 59 18
16 CBJ 23 9 14 0 57 72 18


H. Zetterberg 22 4 14 -2 18
D. Larkin 22 8 7 11 15
T. Tatar 22 7 8 -1 15
G. Nyquist 22 7 5 -1 12
J. Abdelkader 22 5 7 -4 12
T. Pulkkinen 21 6 5 2 11
M. Green 16 1 6 -7 7
N. Kronwall 22 0 7 -8 7
R. Sheahan 22 3 3 -6 6
J. Kindl 17 2 3 3 5
P. Mrazek 6 4 2 .931 2.21
J. Howard 5 4 1 .917 2.34 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map