A Detroit Red Wings team that is on a seven-game losing streak will look to get things back on track Thursday night when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes, and they will have to do so without rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser. The Red Wings were shut out by the Nashville Predators and rookie goaltender Marek Mazanec 2-0 on Tuesday night, but losing their young blueliner could be far worse than losing that one game. Though he’s only 33 games into his NHL career, DeKeyser has been one of the team’s best defensemen this season while seeing increased minutes and special teams ice time.
Only Niklas Kronwall has produced more offense from the blue line this season, as DeKeyser’s two goals and nine points place him in a tie with Todd Bertuzzi for sixth place on the Red Wings in scoring. Playing more than 20 minutes per game, DeKeyser trails only Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins among first-year blueliners in most statistical categories. While he is sidelined, the Red Wings will turn to Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Jakub Kindl and Kyle Quincey to step up their play. DeKeyser could miss up a month with a separated shoulder, and while he has been placed on long-term injured reserve it does not appear that he will need surgery.
While missing a month could derail any outside chance DeKeyser had at the Calder Trophy, the bigger story is how much it hurts a Red Wings team that has a minus-7 goal differential in home games this season. His surprising offense has been a boost for a team that finds itself 21st in goals per game, and he continues to mature in his own end. The Red Wings were already reeling before this setback, and now they have a chance to show resolve in the face of adversity.