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Colaiacovo is 'jacked' for playoff chance

Veteran replaces rookie Lashoff in lineup against the Ducks

Friday, 05.10.2013 / 1:08 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Colaiacovo is \'jacked\' for playoff chance
Carol Colaiacovo will play in career playoff game No. 12 when he is partnered with defenseman Jakub Kindl tonight against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – A single word couldn’t describe the elation coursing through Carlo Colaiacovo’s veins Thursday morning when he learned that he would make his first Stanley Cup playoff appearance in a Red Wings’ sweater.

“I don’t even know what the word is to use. I think excited is a small word,” said Colaiacovo, who will replace rookie Brian Lashoff in Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

It’s been beyond a frustrating year for Colaiacovo, who signed a two-year free agency contract last September. Injury prone throughout most of his 10 NHL seasons, Colaiacovo suffered a separated shoulder in the first week of the lockout-shortened season.

“It’s a situation that you never wish on anybody,” he said. “But in the same sense you have to be professional. You have to be ready because anything can happen. Obviously we’ve seen different things happen throughout the series and at the end of the day you’re a hockey player for a reason and when you get the opportunity you gotta take the chance and be ready and fill in the void when needed.”

Colaiacovo will be the third different defensive partner for Jakub Kindl, who began the playoffs alongside rookie Danny DeKeyser, who had season-ending thumb surgery following Game 2.

Colaiacovo hasn’t played a whole lot this season as his injury kept him out of the lineup for all but six games. But tonight, in a must-win game for the Red Wings, Colaiacovo is being asked to do what the coaches think he does best.

“We didn’t move the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We struggled, in particular that pair a lot that game, opening shift and a number of other shifts. We weren’t good enough so we’re making a change.”

Colaiacovo has been a good team player, waiting his turn to get back in the lineup. Though it hasn’t been easy, he was relieved when assistant coach Bill Peters gave him the news that he had been waiting to hear.

“When you see the coach come up to you, you expect it’s going to be something that you’re not used to hearing,” Colaiacovo said. “I’m jacked, man. It’s going to be my first playoff game at The Joe. I love playing in this building. I have to keep my emotions intact, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to be riding pretty high tonight.”

Justin Abdelkader will also return to the lineup for Game 6. The Red Wings’ forward sat out the last two games of the series while serving a two-game suspension for his illegal hit to the head of Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman.

Abdelkader will assume his role on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Surprisingly, Babcock has decided to clear space for Abdelkader by removing fourth-line forward Patrick Eaves tonight.

Mikael Samuelsson, who played on the top line in Abdelkader’s absence, will slide down to the fourth line with center Cory Emmerton and left win Todd Bertuzzi.

“Real good question and I ask myself the same question,” Babcock said. “He played good, does what he’s supposed to, runs over people and a real competitive guy. But because I know more insider information that I’m not sharing with you, I have to have other guys to cover up for other people just in case they can’t survive. I did the same thing you just asked, it makes no sense for me.”

Daniel Cleary, who was injured during Game 5, said he experienced some second-day soreness on Thursday, but he’s ready to go tonight in what is an elimination game for the Red Wings.

“Huge game tonight. I’ll be important for us to keep it calm, keep it loose,” he said. “The thing about elimination games is you want to go out and have no regret. With the younger players we have to tell them they’re going to have butterflies and you’re going to be nervous. We’ve been nervous and it goes away after the first part of the game. Just go out and play your game. Stay focused and leave everything out there.”

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