The Detroit Red Wings have had to heavily rely on their youngsters for consistent production this season. The team entered the season with the expectation that their younger players would have to play a more significant role but due to excessive injuries, their current reliance has exceeded that original expectation.
Jimmy Howard will spend Sunday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks on the bench due to a hip flexor injury. The injury was sustained during his fantastic performance Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings, a game in which Howard stopped 43 shots, leading the Red Wings to a 3-1 victory. Petr Mrazek will make the start in net since Jonas Gustavsson is still on the injured-reserve list, dealing with a groin injury. Howard’s injury doesn’t appear to be severe but he has only played in five games since his return from a knee injury.
Pavel Datsyuk will miss his fourth consecutive game on Sunday due to a lagging groin injury. The timetable for his return is currently unknown as it appears the injury is more severe than the team originally thought. Datsyuk’s 32 points is second-most on the team, just behind Henrik Zetterberg’s 36.
Darren Helm didn’t begin his season until November 2nd due to a back injury. After just 15 games, Helm suffered a shoulder injury which placed him back on the injured-reserve list. Upon his return, Helm suffered a strained groin and hasn’t played since December 30th. Aside from the fact that the Wings are not very deep at the center position, Helm’s blazing speed has been greatly missed.
Sunday night will also mark the second straight game that a back injury has sidelined Daniel Alfredsson.
It looks like Johan Franzen might return to the lineup soon after suffering a concussion on December 15th. This past Friday, Franzen reported that he is no longer experiencing any headaches. The mule plays an important role in Detroit’s offense, especially on the power play.
Jonathan Ericsson is scheduled to return to the lineup sometime this month after experiencing broken ribs on December 23rd. The timetable for his return was originally set for 3-5 weeks, which would make this week the earliest possibility for his return. Ericsson is one of the few Wings defensemen that has some NHL experience.
Stephen Weiss last played in a game on December 10th. Still recovering from his sports hernia surgery, it is unknown when Weiss will be ready to return to the lineup.
Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan have been called upon to help Detroit out at the center position. Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith have seen more playing time as they have been filling in at the defensive position. Patrick Eaves, Joakim Andersson, and Tomas Tatar have all inherited increased roles due to frequent injuries. These guys aren’t super stars, but have done their best as fill-ins.
Read more Red Wings news, rumors, and opinion on our Detroit Red Wings team page