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One in, two out for Red Wings

Filppula returns to lineup; Howard and White will sit out

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 5:10 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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One in, two out for Red Wings
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The Red Wings will get Valtteri Filppula (shoulder) back in the lineup tonight. However, Jimmy Howard (ill) will sit out the game against the Flames. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

CALGARY – One step forward and two steps back.

That’s the ridiculous roster trend that continues to unfortunately follow the Red Wings as they begin a stretch of three games in western Canada this week.

The Red Wings will welcome Valtteri Filppula back to the lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames. But they’ll be without goalie Jimmy Howard and defenseman Ian White at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Howard, who traveled with the team to western Canada on Tuesday, reported is ill and not available for tonight’s game. Backup Jonas Gustavsson will make his third start for the Red Wings.

Asked why White wasn’t at the morning skate, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, “Personal reasons.” The Wings’ coach said that rookie Brian Lashoff will play, and that fourth-line winger Jordin Tootoo would be a game-time decision for tonight’s game.

But regardless of who’s in and who’s out, the Red Wings need wins, especially against the Flames, who have experienced their own struggles lately losing four of the last six games.

“We have a game today. They have to be desperate for points and we have to be desperate for points,” Babcock said. “Our road record isn’t good enough. We think we’ve done lots of good things as a team of late, and yet, we’ve won when we give up one (goal). When we give up two (goals) we haven’t won, so we have to continue to play well without the puck, and we have to find a way to generate offense. Our power play is 19th in the league at home and it’s 0-fer on the road, so we have to fix that, and just continue to get better.”

Filppula missed seven games with a sprained left shoulder suffered on Feb. 24 against Vancouver. Babcock said Wednesday afternoon that Filppula will skate on the Wings’ top forward line with center Henrik Zetterberg and winger Damien Brunner.

A similar one-in and one-out situation occurred last month when Johan Franzen returned from a hip flexor injury on Feb. 27 in Los Angeles. It was that game that Filppula sat out the first of seven.

“We just got Franzen back a few games ago and he’s turning around, and the difference between him and Fil, Fil was able to skate while he was injured, so obviously that’s a big boost for us,” Babcock said. “For Z to have someone to go with and (Pavel) Datsyuk to have someone to go with I think that’s real important. We’re average to say the least without those guys.”

Justin Abdelkader and Franzen will at least begin tonight’s game on Datsyuk’s line, Babcock said. Daniel Cleary will play on the third line with rookie center Joakim Andersson and recently called up Gustav Nyquist.

Gustavsson said he learned of Howard’s illness this morning. And while it’s unusual to receive late notice, Gustavsson said being ready for the unexpected is part of the role of a veteran backup.

“Usually you know the day before,” he said, “but doesn't matter if you're starting or backing up, you’ve got to prepare, because you never know what happens.”'

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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