If a surgeon gives his blessing, Troy Stecher will return to the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup for Saturday’s noon game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Red Wings will be playing without Filip Hronek (COVID) and Nick Leddy (upper-body injury). Defenseman Troy Stecher hasn’t played since Nov. 4 because of wrist surgery.
“I feel good,” Stecher said. “It’s obviously been a long process. I had a lot of time alone with (Jakub) Vrana, just the two of us working together, so to be back with the guys at practice obviously is a huge step for myself. Hopeful to play tomorrow, which would be the final step in the whole process.”
Hronek will miss at least two games and Leddy is viewed as day-to-day. Stecher’s return is important because he’s feisty, hard to play against and has a knack for making things happen.
“Stech is highly competitive,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “He keeps it very simple. He gets pucks out, gets pucks in. That alone is something we have to continue to improve as a hockey team. I think he brings that element of high competitiveness. He’s vocal out there. I think he knows what it takes to win, so it would be good to get him back in. I’m hoping he clears.”
Red Wings Regain Depth
Given that Leddy and Hronek aren’t expected to be out long, Stecher’s return means the Red Wings will soon have eight proven defensemen again.
“I think the depth is great and competition can be a good thing for certain,” Blashill said. “Depth means that when somebody goes out, whether because of injury or because a guy has played poorly, other guys go in and your don’t miss a beat. That’s when depth really shows and matters a lot. We’ll see when we get our group. You know how this business is, it’s day by day. Let’s get to tomorrow.”
With Hronek and Leddy out, Dearborn Heights native Jordan Oesterle will get a chance to play on the power play. The power play has improved in recent weeks, moving from second-to-last to 26th among NHL teams. Their season efficiency is 16.5%.
“We just want (Oesterle) to keep it simple, move the puck, facilitate the power play on that side,” Blashill said. “We got two big bodies around the net. Let’s get pucks to the cage.”
Stecher and Staal Have Chemistry
Blashill didn’t use Stecher much early in the season, even though the Red Wings liked how he played last season. He was trying to make an impact when he did get to play.”
“I wasn’t happy I wasn’t playing,” Troy Stecher said. “When you come back from a summer and put in all that work and don’t get to start playing it’s obviously disappointing. When I got back in, I tried to take a lot of pride in my game. I felt I was coming out strong. Obviously I got injured, so that was unfortunate. Just excited to be back in the mix. Whether I’m playing or not, I got to push the guys, push our teammates, be the best teammate I can be and when I am playing try to be the best I can be.”
The presumption is Stecher will play with Marc Staal.
“We played together last year I think every single game I was in I played with him,” Stecher said. “So we’re familiar with each other. We live right around the corner. We’ve had some dinners together throughout the year with his wife and his kids. I’m very comfortable playing with Marc. I really like the way he plays and the way I play kind of meshes well together, the two styles. Definitely feel comfortable going out there with him.”