The talk around the NHL is about the March 8 trade deadline. But the Detroit Red Wings probably feel like good health will help them in their playoff push as much as a big trade will.
The Red Wings are coming out of their eight-day break with right wing Patrick Kane, defenseman Ben Chiarot and goalie Ville Husso returning to the lineup after an extended absence due to injury. Husso has been sidelined since Dec. 18. Kane has been out since Jan. 14, while Chiarot has been gone since Jan 19. All three should be in the lineup Saturday when the Red Wings play No. 1-ranked Vancouver Canucks at Little Caesars Arena.
“We’re going to have some tough decisions for scratches,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “But that’s all part of it. Those are good problems to have. You saw us in December, had trouble fielding a lineup with how many guys we had out. Good timing on being healthy.”
Staying healthy will be vital to making the playoffs. Kane’s ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone, and then control it in the offensive zone will be critical. The 232-pound Chiarot serves a shutdown role and is crucial to the penalty kill.
“You want to push. It’s a constant battle of attrition,” Lalonde said.
Lyon Starts Saturday
Lalonde said he thought he would play Alex Lyon Saturday, but he hasn’t figured out how Husso will be worked in. He was the No. 1 goalie at the start of the season, but Lyon’s strong work played a big role in Detroit’s 9-2-2 in January. The Red Wings aren’t eager to give him too many games off.
The Detroit mission is to avoid being sluggish in their first game back. The Canucks have played two games this week.
“That’s a challenge,” Lalonde said. “You can do the best you can with two practices to replicate game speed but it’s going to be hard. We’ll be at a disadvantage. But it’s all part of it. The schedule is not perfect. That’s an impossible matrix. You get the bad end of some things. You get the good end.”
Happy to be back. 😃
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 8, 2024
Lalonde has lineup decisions to make going into their first game. The lines and defensive pairings will be adjusted.
There’s a hope that a fresh Kane can add another layer of danger to the offense.
“He exceeded such expectations when he came back (this season),” Lalonde said. “One, how healthy he was and his level of play. He has a high standard for himself. I just really appreciate where he started to take some ownership, some intensity within the group, some leadership, which I thought was great. He was doing some things defensively within his game to pitch in on our team play. Hopefully can get right back up the pace as soon as possible.”