As the Detroit Red Wings continue to fight for a playoff berth, head coach Mike Babcock made some big changes to the team’s defense heading into Friday night’s meeting with the Colorado Avalanche. While the most exciting of these changes is the NHL debut of highly-regarded defenseman Danny DeKeyser, the team will also see Kyle Quincey return from an injury and Ian White get yet another chance to have an impact on the blue line.
With those three players inserted into the lineup, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith will sit out as healthy scratches. Colaiacovo is minus-4 in two games since returning from an injury that cost him nearly two months of playing time. Lashoff has been a pleasant surprise for the Wings this season, but has cooled off a bit lately and finds himself as the low man on the totem pole in experience. This will be the first time this season that Smith has been scratched, as he has two assists in the last three games but is also minus-5 in Detroit’s last five contests.
DeKeyser chose the Red Wings after being pursued by a handful of teams following a successful collegiate career at Western Michigan University. There was a chance he would make his debut on Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes, but Babcock elected to go with Lashoff for a stronger presence on the penalty kill. The Coyotes defeated the Red Wings 4-2, with the Detroit penalty kill successfully squashing all four chances the Coyotes had. Unfortunately, the two power play goals the Red Wings scored were not enough, and they entered Friday in seventh place, just one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues. If Babcock’s lineup changes are effective, the Wings should be able to hand the Avalanche a loss for the second time in five days.