Ville Husso’s injury has created an opportunity for Alex Nedeljkovic to start for the Detroit Red Wings Saturday on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It’s unfortunate right now that Huss is dealing with something,” Nedeljkovic said. “You never want to see anybody get hurt. But that’s the job, that’s the world we live in right now. I’m just thankful for another opportunity.”
Nedeljkovic was brought in Thursday night as a reliever against the St. Louis Blues. He stopped eight of nine shots. This will be his first start for Detroit since Dec. 8 when he gave up five goals in a loss to the Florida Panthers. He was sent to Grand Rapids that week.
Coach Derek Lalonde said Husso is day-to-day: “He’s still in an evaluation process. He’ll be unavailable Saturday and I don’t know if he’s going to be back anytime soon.”
Lalonde said defensemen Simon Edvinsson and Gus Lindstrom are both game-time decisions because of injuries. Both had full practices Friday.
Red Wings forward Filip Zadina won’t play Saturday. He’s day to day. “We’ll see where we are at from there,” Lalonde said.
Lalonde said injured Adam Erne returns to the lineup and will replace Zadina. Matt Luff, up on an emergency call-up, will stay in the lineup.
“I don’t think we’ll need a recall. I have no problem with playing 11 and 7 on the road tomorrow if everyone is available,” Lalonde said.
‘Ned’ Thriving in GR
Nedeljkovic has played well for the Griffins. He’s 13-9-3 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. His confidence is restored.
“I’ve felt really good, especially these last two-and-a-half, three weeks,” Nedeljkovic said. “I felt like I’ve kind of gotten back to myself, gotten back to what’s worked for me in the past and what’s made me successful.”
After giving up a goal, Nedeljkovic was sharp against the Blues.
“Just trying to play the same way I was in GR,” Nedeljkovic said. “It’s what has made me successful in the past, what I’ve done that’s worked. It’s what’s gonna make me successful down the road. Just trying to recreate that as best as I can.
The Ohio native has plenty of motivation for playing well in this call-up. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. It would help if he reminds the hockey world he can be an NHL starter. But Nedeljkovic isn’t thinking about that.
“There’s 11 games left I think,” Nedeljkovic said. “Mathematically we’re still in the playoff hunt. But you’re always playing for something. It doesn’t matter if it’s Game 82 and you’re already out, or whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be some big Game 7 for it to mean something. Every day is a chance to get better and prove something.”