Red Wings defenseman Xavier Ouellet, left, and the Bruins' Jordan Caron battle for the puck during an exhibition last month at Joe Louis Arena. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — Xavier Ouellet was impressive during the exhibition season.
Monday, he got a chance when it counts.
With Jonathan Ericsson not playing — his wife had their first child — and Niklas Kronwall recovering from a concussion, Ouellet was in the lineup as the Red Wings hosted the Sharks.
“It’ll be a challenge to keep my emotions,” said Ouellet, a 2011 second-round pick who has played five games in Grand Rapids. “I just want to concentrate on making the right plays and playing a good game.
“I’m a defenseman who coaches can trust.”
Ouellet played 17 minutes, 15 seconds on 23 shifts, with one shot on net and one hit.
“He was real good, he was steady,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Those young defensemen did a good job for Howie (goalie Jimmy Howard). They didn’t give up anything.”
Babcock liked what he saw from Ouellet and defenseman Ryan Sproul during camp and believed both were close to playing in the NHL.
Ouellet was first up.
“He’s a really good young player,” Babcock said “He makes good decisions. He just has to get quicker and that comes with experience, and we think he’ll do it.”
Kronwall doing well
Kronwall could return as early as Wednesday against Ottawa.
Kronwall skated Monday morning and continues to have no symptoms stemming from his check into the boards last week in Denver.
“I’ve talked to several people who say (concussion symptoms) can take a few days to kick in but so far I feel good,” Kronwall said. “So far, I’ve felt real good from Day 1.
“I’m sure there still tests to take. (But) it felt good to be back on the ice with the guys and looking forward to playing Wednesday.”
In an effort to get more balanced offense out of his lineup, Babcock shuffled lines.
One highlight was Stephen Weiss sliding to a third-line role centering Daniel Cleary and Tomas Tatar.
“We have to find a way to generate (offense), and have more offensive push than one line,” Babcock said. “We haven’t had it.”
The Red Wings were hoping Weiss would provide offense as a replacement for Valtteri Filppula (who signed with the Lightning), but it hasn’t happened yet.
Weiss has two goals and no assists in 10 games, and a minus-3 rating.
“The first thing you have to do when you come to a new place is to breathe, you have to give yourself a break,” Babcock said. “Spend no time thinking and spend your time playing.
“Just look after defense and once he settles down, the rest will come.”
Darren Helm (back) was recalled from Grand Rapids while Luke Glendening was sent to the Griffins.
Helm (back) and Patrick Eaves (knee, ankle sprain) can be taken off the long-term injured list Thursday.
… Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was named the NHL’s First Star for his three consecutive victories last week.