Justin Abdelkader

Abdelkader set to make series debut for Wings

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The Detroit Red Wings are back at home, and returning a key piece of the lineup.

Justin Abdelkader, who missed the first two games of the playoffs with a hand injury, will draw back in for tomorrow’s Game 3 at the Joe when the Wings host the Lightning with the series tied 1-1.

Getting Abdelkader back will be a big boost for Detroit, especially after getting spanked 5-1 in Game 2. The 28-year-old scored a career-high 23 goals this season and averaged just under 18 minutes per night — 17:55, also a personal best — and, what’s more, has a wealth of playoff experience with 54 games on his resume.

Based on this morning’s skate, Abdelkader will play on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist, which allows Pavel Datsyuk to center a unit featuring Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar. Abdelkader was also in his familiar spot in front of the net on the power play, where he scored eight times this season.

It looks as though veteran Stephen Weiss will be dropped from the lineup to make room.

Wings’ Abdelkader expected to return for Game 3

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After a six game absence the Detroit Red Wings expect to have forward Justin Abdelkader in the lineup for Game 3 on Tuesday night.

Abdelkader has missed the first two games of the series with an injured right hand.

“We’ll be fortunate we’ll get Abby back next game, so we’ll be able to move people around and put us in a little better situation that way, better matchups,” said Wings’ head coach Mike Babcock following Saturday’s 5-1 loss.

The 28-year-old had 23 goals and 44 points in 71 regular season games prior to being sidelined.

Related: Babcock to go with Mrazek for Game 3

Babcock to go with Mrazek for Game 3

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Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock didn’t waste any time deciding on his starting goaltender for Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Based on multiple reports via Twitter, Babcock said he’s going back to Petr Mrazek, who was pulled after the second period in Detroit’s loss on Saturday.

Ansar Khan of MLive.com reiterated that, and added Babcock expects Justin Abdelkader back in the lineup for Game 3.

As for the loss in Game 2, which evens the series, well, Babcock offered this take, as per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press: “I’ll be in my hot tub by 10 tonight and the sun is going to get up tomorrow and we’ll get a 5-game series against Tampa.”

Abby Out: No Abdelkader (hand) for Detroit in Game 1

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One of Detroit’s four 20-goal scorers won’t be in the lineup tonight for its series opener against Tampa Bay.

Justin Abdelkader, who scored a career-high 23 times this year, will sit out this evening’s tilt with a hand injury carried over from the regular season. Abdelkader suffered the ailment on April 4 against the Minnesota Wild and missed the final four regular-season games, but did practice this week in the hopes of being ready for Game 1.

Without him in the lineup, the Red Wings will make some adjustments.

The biggest of which might be putting Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on a line with Darren Helm. That trio provides plenty of offense — Datsyuk had 65 points in 63 games this year, Zetterberg 66 in 77 — and Helm scored a personal best 15 goals.

As for the rest of the lines…

Gustav Nyquist – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Tatar

Stephen Weiss – Joakim Andersson – Tomas Jurco

Drew Miller – Luke Glendening – Landon Ferraro

While head coach Mike Babcock does have some good depth here and nice options in reserve, Abdelkader will still be missed. He’s blossomed into a good net-front/power forward type and, despite being just 28 years old, has a wealth of postseason experience — 70 career playoff games heading into this spring.

Playoff infirmary report: Who’s hurt, who’s coming back?

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Patrick Kane, Chicago (broken clavicle)

Originally thought to be out for 12 weeks, Kane cut his recovery time nearly in half and will suit up for Game 1 of Chicago’s series against Nashville. Kane hasn’t played since Feb. 24 but was lighting it up — as per usual — prior to getting hurt, with 64 points in 61 games.

Mark Giordano, Calgary (torn biceps)

There was some optimism earlier in the week when the Flames captain resumed skating and told reporters “I feel like hopefully the rehab is going better than expected.” That said, the injury and subsequent surgery came with a 4-5 month recovery period, so any possible Giordano comeback would come in much later playoff rounds.

Max Pacioretty, Montreal (upper-body)

Pacioretty, Montreal’s leading goalscorer with 37, has been out since getting knocked into the boards versus Florida in the third-final game of the season. He’s been ruled out of Game 1 against Ottawa and Habs head coach Michel Therrien is playing it coy about a potential return date.

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (concussion)

Letang is unlikely to return this season following a hit from Arizona captain Shane Doan in late March.

Christian Ehrhoff, Pittsburgh (concussion)

Though he’s been cleared for contact, the Pens d-man won’t be available for Game 1. Neither will fellow blueliner Derrick Pouliot.

Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders (undisclosed)

Details on the d-man’s health are far and few between. Will the Isles say what his injury is? No. Have they given a timetable for return? No. All we really know is that Hamonic hasn’t been on the ice at all since taking a hipcheck from Pittsburgh’s Rob Scuderi last Friday, and his status is uncertain.

Kevin Klein, New York Rangers (broken arm)

Out since mid-March, the Rangers blueliner was originally expected to be ready for the playoffs — but now it sounds like his Game 1 status is in question. Klein also didn’t practice on Wednesday, casting further doubt on his ability to suit up for the opener against Pittsburgh.

Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay (upper-body)

When the Bolts d-man was hurt in late March, the club put a 3-4 week timetable on his return. As such, Garrison likely won’t be available for the early parts of the Detroit series; that said, the Lightning did get some good news as fellow blueliners Braydon Coburn and Andrej Sustr looked as though they’d be back in.

Mike Fisher, Nashville (lower-body)

The veteran Preds center missed the final two games of the year, but will draw in for Game 1 against Chicago.

John Gibson, Anaheim (upper-body)

After picking up a knock in practice, Gibson didn’t skate on Wednesday — which points to Frederik Andersen getting the start for Anaheim in Game 1 of its series against the Jets. At this point, it’s worth monitoring this situation to see if Gibson is even healthy enough to back up, as the Ducks have recalled veteran Jason LaBarbera from AHL Norfolk.

Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg (lower body)

Injured in last Thursday’s shootout loss to Colorado, Perreault hasn’t been practicing or skating but, per Jets head coach Paul Maurice, he is getting better.

“We don’t want to turn it into a bigger problem than it is,” Maurice said, per the Free Press. “He’ll get back out on the ice. He may play based on how he feels after he skates. I expect him to go sooner rather than later.”

Justin Abdelkader, Detroit (hand)

Injured blocking a shot late in the season, Abdelkader is listed as questionable for Game 1 against Tampa Bay. His official status will be announced following the morning skate.