By: Will Burchfield
The carousel on the blue line continues to revolve for the Red Wings.
Three games after getting back Brendan Smith, they have lost Jonathan Ericsson. The 6’5 defenseman fractured his wrist after being hit from behind in Thursday night’s loss to the Capitals and will be out six to eight weeks, according to reports.
The play occurred late in the first period when Ericsson, collecting the puck behind his own net, was shoved into the boards by the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom. Ericsson left the game immediately; Backstrom was assessed a boarding penalty.
Coach Jeff Blashill told reporters the loss of Ericsson is bigger than people might realize.
“People don’t have enough respect for what 6-foot-5…and good skating can do for you,” he said. “When you are playing against big, physical men, you need guys that can go against them and handle them as he can.
“He doesn’t get enough respect for what he brings to the table. He is a big, physical defenseman that can play against the very best in the league. So when we lost him it was obviously a big loss, and it is going to be a big loss moving forward.”
Health has been an issue for the Red Wings this season, with the blue line being no exception.
Alexey Marchenko (now with the Maple Leafs) missed 16 games over November and December with a shoulder injury, Mike Green missed eight games over December and January with an upper-body injury and Brendan Smith only recently returned from a 13-game absence due to a knee injury. On top of that, Niklas Kronwall has been in and out of the lineup throughout the season due to his permanently damaged knee. He missed his third straight game last night.
Xavier Oullet, who was scratched versus the Caps, figures to take Ericsson’s spot in the lineup for the time being. Kronwall, meanwhile, could return for this weekend’s action.
The Red Wings visit the Blue Jackets on Saturday night and the Wild on Sunday.