Detroit Red Wings 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

Pearce could make debut in Big Apple

Howard re-injures groin; Conklin recalled from Grand Rapids

Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 4:10 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  -
Share with your Friends

Pearce could make debut in Big Apple
Jordan Pearce could start his first NHL game Wednesday in NYC if veteran backup Ty Conklin doesn't clear waivers. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – If hockey didn’t work-out, there was always medical school. At least that’s the way Red Wings minor-league goaltender Jordan Pearce always looked at it.

Now the Notre Dame graduate is one waiver move away from starting his first NHL game when the Wings visit the New York Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The likelihood of Pearce playing Wednesday was made possible when Jimmy Howard re-aggravated the groin injury, which forced him to sit three games earlier this month. The Wings are also without backup Joey MacDonald, who is experiencing sharp sciatic pain in his left leg, and has an appointment Tuesday with a Detroit area orthopedic and spine surgeon.

Detroit has recalled veteran backup Ty Conklin on emergency basis from Grand Rapids. However, he must first clear re-entry waivers by 12 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. If nobody claims Conklin, he will join the team in New York where he will start against the Rangers.

If Conklin is claimed, expect Pearce to make his NHL debut against the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

“I don't know what's going on with Howie yet, but I feel like whether you're a backup or a starter you got to be ready to go,” said Pearce, who has one more year left on his two-way contract. “I prepare the same as I have been all week. You just got to be ready to go.”

Pearce, 25, is on his second recall from Grand Rapids this month, to serve as backup to Howard and MacDonald.

The Wings have been decimated by injuries lately with 10 players having missed a total of 51 games since Feb. 20 when Pavel Datsyuk underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. With six players still in sick bay, including Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Jakub Kindl (strained oblique), Darren Helm (left MCL), Jonathan Ericsson (left wrist) and Johan Franzen (back spasms), the last thing they needed was for Howard to re-injure his groin at some point during Monday’s 5-3 loss to Washington.

“I don't think it's anything major,” coach Mike Babcock said, “just some tightness, we're obviously trying to be cautious.”

Should Pearce play Wednesday, he’ll look to count on his collegiate experience, he said.

As a college senior in 2008-09, he led the Fighting Irish to both the CCHA regular-season and playoff titles, finishing with a 30-6-3 record, a 1.68 goals-against average and eight shutouts. He led the nation that season in wins and shutouts and was selected as the CCHA scholar-athlete of the year.

However, Pearce had other options besides hockey, which he would still like to pursue at some point, but not tomorrow.

“I went into my senior year not quite knowing what to expect and went through med school applications,” Pearce said. “You only get a chance one time in your life to pursue professional hockey, so I decided to give it a shot, and here I am right now.”

Pearce was accepted to two schools, including his first choice – the WWAMI program at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“I'm excited about that career once I'm done playing hockey,” he said. “The chance to play professional hockey tomorrow night, I'm excited about that.”

The Wings are desperate for a win, having earned three-points in their last eight games and in a dogfight with Nashville and Chicago in the Western standings. However, Pearce, who has played in pressure situations like the 2008 NCAA national championship game, can’t get caught up with the excitement if he gets into Wednesday’s game.

“I'll get focused and play the game. I fee like hockey is hockey, it's always the same,” Pearce said. “Puck's the same size. You just got to go out there and have fun and have confidence in yourself. … For me it's always been a nervous excitement. You got to be confident in yourself. I'm definitely excited if I get called upon.”

Meanwhile, MacDanald’s back and nerve pain stems from scar tissue from a previous surgery known as an L5-S1 lumbar discectomy. X-rays have shown the tissue pushing against the sciatic nerve.

“It’s a huge relief that it’s not a disk, MacDonald said. “I went through it once with a bulging disk, it’s not fun. It was the worst three or four months of my life. Fortunate enough that it’s not that and we’ll find out more today.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80