Mattias Ritola will make his playoff debut with the Red Wings tonight, as he replaces Jason Williams on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Kris Draper, reports Ansar Khan:
“It’s real exciting. I’ve been waiting for it. It feels great to be
in,” Ritola said. “I played with Abby all year when he got down there.
Hopefully I’ll get in and grind the D out and keep holding onto the puck
and take the play to the net and create some scoring chances.”
On defense, Andreas Lilja will replace Brent Lebda.
It’s a move by Mike Babcock that looks to insert some more grit and hard work in the corners into his lineup, as Ritola won’t provide much offense but he will get all the little things done with energy the Red Wings haven’t shown yet against the Sharks.
What’s telling about the Red Wings’ approach and their physical state is on the morning of the biggest game of their season almost none of the regular players skated. This isn’t a team that needs practice to know how to win a big game while facing elimination, but it’s tough to deny that the Red Wings are looking to rest as much as possible as they gear up for tonight.