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Abdelkader's excited for Game 6 return

Forward was suspended for last two games of Ducks series

Thursday, 05.9.2013 / 6:53 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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Abdelkader\'s excited for Game 6 return
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader was ejected for his hit on the Ducks' Toni Lydman in the second period of Game 3 last Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)

ROMULUS, Mich. – Following a four-hour flight from Southern California on Thursday afternoon, Justin Abdelkader may have been the happiest guy to step off of Red Bird III at Detroit Metro Airport.

The Red Wings’ forward was relegated to spectator-status for the last two games of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Anaheim Ducks. Abdelkader sat out Games 4 and 5 after he was suspended by the league for his illegal hit to the head of Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman in Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena.

Lydman still hasn’t returned to the Ducks’ lineup since the injury occurred last Saturday.

“Yeah, it’s tough, really tough, especially how tight both games were with a couple of overtime games,” said Abdelkader, when asked about watching from the press box. “It’s more nerve-racking to watch than playing, that’s for sure.”


Abdelkader will be back in the Red Wings' lineup when they host the Ducks in Game 6 on Friday night at The Joe.

Abdelkader hast been a contributing force for the Red Wings on their top forward line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Fortunately, Mikael Samuelsson filled in quite admirably on the line in Abdelkader’s absence. Samuelsson even scored his first playoff goal since 2011 when he ripped home a rebound in the second period of the Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime loss in Game 5.

Though Samuelsson worked out fine on the top line, coach Mike Babcock is glad to have Abdelkader back where he belongs. But with Abdelkader returning, someone will need to come out, and that likely will be Todd Bertuzzi, who has given the fourth line some energy over the last two games, or Samuelsson.

“He’s a big, physical presence,” Babcock said, referring to Samuelsson. “I think he makes Z and Pav better so that’ll help them. Obviously, someone has to come out of the lineup and we’ll figure that out here.”

Abdelkader is anxious to get back in the lineup to help the Red Wings stretch this series to a Game 7 back in Anaheim on Sunday.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” he said. “Hopefully I can come in and inject some energy into the lineup and help us get a win.”

Asked if the suspension will make him play with less of a physical edge, Abdelkader said he didn’t think so. But he’ll be more cautious.

“I don’t think I have a history of making dirty plays and dirty hits. I just play my same game and obviously if a hit like that presents itself I just have to be smarter about it and target a little lower.”

As for the Red Wings, they’re only concerned about winning the next game.

“We have to win a game. That’s where we’re at and that’s what we’re going to think about,” Babcock said. “We’ll take the rest of the day off, come back tomorrow, get prepared to get back at it.

“There’s nothing we can do about any of the stuff that’s happened, we have a game tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go. I’m going to spend the rest of the day and tomorrow thinking about our lineup to give ourselves our best chance to win.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80