DeKeyser, Green give Wings' defense a boost

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Danny DeKeyser

Detroit – A day before the Red Wings defense looked a bit banged up.

By Friday morning’s skate, though, it had a much more healthy and optimistic outlook.

Defensemen Danny DeKeyser (leg bruise) and Mike Green (groin) were both expected to play Friday night against the Avalanche after appearing doubtful to be in the lineup.

Green missed the last two games and DeKeyser missed most of Wednesday’s third period after being struck by a Dion Phanefu slapshot to the side of his knee.

With Green returning, Jakub Kindl was out of the lineup.

“Kindl came in and did a real good job, our defensive corps did a real good job when they (Green, DeKesyer) were out,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Now they’re back in and it gives you some more in your arsenal.”

Green’s groin tightened up last week.

“It just kind of seized up,” Green said. “It was one of those things where you finish a game and you go home and wake up and it just sort of locked up and was sore.”

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The injury came at an inopportune time for Green in that he had a scored a goal the previous two games.

“A wise man told me to shoot the puck,” said Green, who declined to name who that was. “When you think that way, you create more chances for yourself.”

As for DeKeyser, he was concerned the injury was more serious than it turned out to be after taking the Phaneuf slapshot flush on the side of the right knee.

“My leg went limp,” said DeKeyser, who added the puck struck a nerve in the leg. “I couldn’t get much strength out of it. It started to feel better as I walked it off but I couldn’t really put a lot of weight on it to skate.”

The Red Wings were to be without defenseman Niklas Kronwall (knee), who is eligible Sunday to come off the injured list. But Kronwall, who began skating earlier this week and Friday participated in the morning skate, will be brought along slowly.

“He’s in a spot (after almost four weeks off) where hockey conditioning becomes a factor,” Blashill said. “It’s going to take a little bit to make sure he’s up to 100-percent speed. We don’t want to put in a defenseman that isn’t 100 percent ready to go.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing to put guys in without putting them in the best possible position to hit the ground running.”

Respect for Roy

Blashill was to face former Colorado goalie Patrick Roy for the first time Friday as head coaches, but Blashill has long respected Roy the player.

Roy was a Hall of Fame goaltender for Montreal as well as Colorado, and in Blashill’s estimation, changed how the position was played.

“In the sense that he filled the net better than people prior to him,” Blashill said. “He made himself bigger (in net) and learned how to play a style that really took away a lot of net and in time, that increased the save percentages in the league.

“When I played 88 percent (save percentage) was OK, then 90 was great, and now it’s 93. That 88, you don’t keep a job (nowadays). He certainly changed it that way.”

Blashill also has admired the competitive nature that Roy brought to the crease and now behind the bench with the Avalanche.

“His competitiveness seemed to be off the charts,” Blashill said. “I don’t know him but certainly as a goaltender he was somebody I had a lot of respect for.”

Different times

The Red Wings’ games against the Avalanche these days are a far cry from glory days of the rivalry when both organizations stocked numerous Hall of Famers.

Blashill says it’s a byproduct of the salary cap era.

“It’s almost impossible to have the collection of talent that was on both of those teams,” Blashill said. “That’s why the disparity between teams is so minimal now compared to then. There was probably five or six teams that had a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup. Now there are 25 teams capable.

“I’m not sure we’ll see it again, if the cap system is in place, because you just can’t collect that level of talent.”