Wings' Zetterberg, Ericsson questionable vs. hot Flames

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings are facing a red-hot Calgary team Sunday — and may do so without a pair of important players.

Henrik Zetterberg

The status of forward Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was unclear after Saturday's practice — Ericsson not practicing at all, and Zetterberg leaving part way through Saturday's workout.

Coach Jeff Blashill said Zetterberg was dealing with a "lower body" issue, which occurred during Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to Vancouver.

Zetterberg scored late in regulation time, tying the game and at least securing a point for the Red Wings.

Ericsson was hurt late in the third period Friday, Blashill said. Ericsson's status for Sunday would be re-evaluated in the morning.

"Right now it's day to day but that might change," said Blashill, describing Ericsson's injury. "Those things change depend on how he reacts."

Zetterberg ties it late, Wings fall in shootout

Blashill said the team will call up one forward and one defenseman from Grand Rapids to provide some depth.

If Ericsson can't play, Jakub Kindl would replace him in the lineup. If Zetterberg isn't ready to play, the Griffins' call-up would take Zetterberg's spot.

The Red Wings have one more game, Tuesday against New Jersey, before going on a three-day league-wide holiday break.

Chance for Kindl

Kindl hasn't played since Nov. 29 against Florida, when he replaced Brendan Smith in the lineup.

Kindl has been a healthy scratch for the last eight games, but Blashill insists it wasn't because of Kindl's performance.

"He didn't come out because he didn't play well," Blashill said. "He came out because I chose six others to put ahead of him, but certainly it's not because of his play."

To Kindl's credit, Blashill said the defenseman has put himself in position to capitalize on the opportunity if he does play.

"He's worked hard to put himself in position to have success, and that's what you have to do," Blashill said. "It's not his decision whether he plays or not, it's mine. But it's his decision to make sure he's ready to be great and hopefully he'll be great (Sunday) if he plays."

Pulkkinen skates

Forward Teemu Pulkkinen (shoulder) skated for the first time Saturday since getting hurt Dec.3 against Arizona.

Pulkkinen went on the ice before the rest of the team but isn't expected to return to game action until later next month.

"I'm feeling better, it's getting better every day," Pulkkinen said. "I can do a little more every day. I'm just going day by day. We're doing everything we can to get me back on the ice."

Unacceptable effort

Blashill and many players were still upset about Friday's lack of urgency playing against the Canucks.

"I was embarrassed of the job I did to get our team ready to go out and play," Blashill said. "It's unacceptable. That being said, I have belief in this group as people and as winners and I believe we'll be totally ready to play (Sunday).

"That doesn't mean we'll win or execute at a high level, you never know that for sure, but we'll come out ready to play."

The Canucks came into the game with three consecutive losses, were playing their third game in four nights, and had significant injuries throughout the lineup — yet outplayed the Red Wings the majority of the game.

"It doesn't matter if a team is on a cold streak or hot streak, they'll give you your best," forward Justin Abdelkader said. "Every team in this league is good and each night you're tested."

Said defenseman Niklas Kronwall: "Last game was terrible. That was not the effort we want to put out every night. We have to get better."

Flames at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7 p.m., Sunday, Joe Louis Arena

TV / radio: FSD / 97.1 FM

Outlook: One of the hottest teams in the NHL in recent weeks, the Flames have gotten healthy and returned to their hard-working, explosive ways…Youngsters LW Johnny Gaudreau (12 goals, 33 points) and C Sean Monahan (24 points) are the go-to players offensively. ... Before their 3-2 loss to the Blues on Saturday, the Flames had won seven straight.