Nashville – The first day back after Christmas break wasn’t a cheerful one for the Red Wings.
They found out they’d be without forward Dylan Larkin and defenseman Jonathan for Saturday night’s game in Nashville. The Wings say both have upper-body injuries.
Not having Larkin aboard was particularly jarring as the rookie leads the Red Wings in goals (13) and leads the entire NHL in plus-minus (21).
Larkin, 19, slammed into the end boards head-and-shoulder first after a hit by defenseman John Moore during Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to New Jersey.
Larkin briefly went into the locker room but returned quickly and finished the game.
“We’re not going to put him out there if he’s not healthy and can’t play,” said general manager Ken Holland, who hopes Larkin can still return to the lineup during this current trip of three games in four days. The Wings are in Minnesota on Monday and in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Still, Holland would not put a timetable on Larkin's return.
“Right now, we’re saying day-to-day,” Holland said. “It could be tomorrow, it could be more days than that.”
Larkin’s 24 points are second on the team to Henrik Zetterberg's 27. Because of his all-around play, Larkin has emerged as leading contender for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie.
With no Larkin, rookie Tomas Nosek, who was called up from Grand Rapids last weekend, will make his NHL debut. Nosek was a healthy scratch for two games before the Christmas break.
Nosek had two goals and six assists in Grand Rapids, while used primarily in a checking and penalty-killing role.
As for Ericsson, the defenseman will miss his third consecutive game with what appears to be a shoulder injury suffered in the Dec. 18 game against Vancouver.
“It’s the same thing as Larkin, we’re calling it day-to-day,” Holland said. “We’re hoping he’ll plays (at some point on this trip). He hasn’t been able to practice, and test it, so we’ll see if he’s ready for the next game."
The Red Wings and the rest of the NHL were off the last three days, with no games or practices.
With Ericsson out, Jakub Kindl remained in the lineup on defense for the Red Wings.
Coach Jeff Blashill went with goaltender Petr Mrazek in net against the Predators.
Mrazek replaced Jimmy Howard in net Tuesday after Howard allowed three goals on six shots against the Devils.
Mrazek came in on relief and stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced.
... Saturday’s game in Nashville opened a stretch of three road games in four days, and overall, nine of 10 games on the road.
The Red Wings have three home games the entire month of January.