If you desired to see a Detroit Red Wings team that looks different as Tuesday's NHL trade deadline approaches, you got it. Unfortunately the different look that the Red Wings will be sporting is a lineup that doesn't include Nicklas Lidstrom.
The team learned today that Lidstrom has a sprained MCL in his right knee, an injury that will likely keep the five-time Norris Trophy winner out for three weeks.
"It could have been a lot worse, a lot more damage to the knee the way I went down," said Lidstrom, who was wearing a brace on his right knee as he spoke with reporters, Wednesday.
Lidstrom was hit hard by Colorado's Ian Laperriere, Monday. Laperriere's forearm caught Lidstrom on the chin and knocked the Detroit captain's head back against the boards. Lidstrom was unable to remain upright after the hit and had to be helped off the ice.
"I've been hit before, but his elbow came up and my head hit the glass," said Lidstrom. "I don't think I've been hit like that, maybe once or twice like that before. Not too often. I've been hit really hard, but not the way I went into the boards."
One test showed that he had no sign of being concusses, according to Lidstrom, who said that he will undergo more baseline testing this week to verify that initial finding.
Lidstrom leads the NHL in plus-minus (plus-39) and tops all defensemen in scoring with 57 points in 62 games.
"What do you say about this guy?" said Kris Draper. "He's the heart and soul of this hockey club."
What makes a Lidstrom-less Red Wings so unusual is that the defenseman has been extremely durable throughout his career. Before this injury, Lidstrom missed just 22 of a possible 1,260 games since joining the Red Wings in 1991. A lot of those games were rest days spotted in at the end of the season.
Lidstrom's only long-term injury before this was a five-game absence with back spasms in 1995. Lidstrom, who won't travel with the team on its three-game Canadian road trip, will miss 9-11 games if he's out for three weeks.
Lidstrom said that he will wear a knee brace for the first few weeks after he returns. He'll only do upper-body workouts over the next few days, resting his knee.
"In my opinion, he's the best player in the league," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "Any time you lose a player like that, it's going to be difficult to replace, especially with the other guys we've got missing."
The other guys are Detroit's No. 2 and 3 defensemen, Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall. Rafalski has a groin injury and missed the past three games. Kronwall has a shoulder injury and has been out the past 10 games.
Rafalski took part in the first part of Wednesday's practice, but left the ice before most of the drills to protect his groin. Kronwall went through the full practice and couple play in Friday's game in Calgary (9 p.m., FSN) or Saturday's game in Vancouver (10 p.m., FSN).
"It feels good; The last couple of days have been really good," said Kronwall. "Obviously, I hope for Friday, but they might have a different agenda. Like I said before, we don't want to take any chances."
In case Kronwall isn't ready to go, the Red Wings recalled defenseman Jonathan Ericsson from Grand Rapids, Wednesday. Ericsson joined goalie Jimmy Howard as the Griffins' two representatives at the American Hockey League all-star game this season.
Ericsson, the last player taken in the 2002 draft, is the No. 2-ranked prospect in the Detroit system (behind Howard) by redwingscentral.com.
Forward Mark Hartigan was also recalled from Grand Rapids, Wednesday, for the fourth time this season. Matt Ellis was put on waivers, today. Other NHL teams have until noon Thursday to claim him. After that, the Red Wings can reassign him to Grand Rapids.
To make room for Ericsson and Hartigan, Rafalski and goalie Dominik Hasek (hip flexor) were placed on injured reserve.