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Detroit — He's done it without much fanfare.

But Niklas Kronwall is steady, and has helped the Red Wings defense evolve from a youthful, inexperienced group to a solid veteran unit.

And on Tuesday against the Canadiens, he hit a milestone: 600 career games played.

"I'm grateful that I've been given the chance to stay here with the Red Wings," said Kronwall, who used to be the youngster among a group of Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios and Brian Rafalski. "That's something that I'm proud of and I'm happy to be a part of this organization."

Only five defensemen have played more games in Red Wings history than Kronwall: Lidstrom (1,564), Marcel Pronovost (983), Red Kelly (846), Reed Larson (708) and Gary Bergman (706).

But it was Kronwall's leadership and steadiness last season that took center stage.

Despite a rash of injuries, Kronwall missed only three games, led the team in assists, and was a stabilizing force on a roster that grew much younger.

"You just watch him on the ice, he plays with so much more poise," Brendan Smith said.

Glendening tries protection

Luke Glendening took a hard shot to his left foot off the stick of Canadiens defensemen Andrei Markov late in Tuesday's second period and hobbled to the bench.

Glendening didn't miss a shift, and luckily didn't break a bone.

Still, in an effort to add another layer of protection, Glendening wore plastic shot-blockers on his skates Thursday.

"They're not heavy and it's a little added protection," Glendening said. "I figured I'll block shots without them anyway. When I almost broke my foot there, I figured it's better to be safe than sorry."

Fighting cancer

The NHL's "Hockey Fights Cancer" campaign was recognized Thursday around the league.

As Joe Louis Arena, a few kids battling cancer were in the Red Wings locker room after the morning skate, interviewing players and sharing smiles.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has been active in fighting cancer for more than 10 years, and was pleased to see the league's involvement.

"It's a great cause, and an on-going battle," Babcock said. "We've made significant strides, doctors are doing great things, but there's a lot of work to be done.

"When someone in your family gets cancer, the whole family gets cancer."

Ice chips

Daniel Cleary, Stephen Weiss and Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches.

… Red Wings assistant Tony Granato was the Penguins assistant from 2009-14.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tkulfan

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