DETROIT -- The chess game of lineup changes continued with the Ducks making a significant move on the back end and the Red Wings opting for a small change up front before Saturday’s Game 3 of their first-round NHL playoff series.
Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa, who missed the final six regular-season games with a lower-body injury, will make his series debut, and veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray is the odd-man out. For Detroit, Mikael Samuelsson is in for the first time in the series, on the fourth line with Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton.
“A little unexpected, but we didn’t win” Game 2, Souray said after the morning skate. “Whatever it takes at this point to win, you’ve got to respect. I haven’t talked to anybody. You have to ask him [Coach Bruce Boudreau]. We’ve got to win a hockey game, so we’ll go with the guys they feel they have the best chance with.”
Was he surprised by the development?
“Yeah, a little surprised,” he said. “At this time of the year, it’s all about winning. So whatever we have to do to win, we’re on board with. It’s all about winning and the chance to win. We believe we have a good chance to win. That hasn’t changed.”
Souray played in 44 games this season, and, along with defenseman Francois Beauchemin, led the Ducks in plus-minus with a plus-19 rating.
It would have been pushing things for Sbisa to have been ready for Game 1. He was available for Game 2 but the Ducks did not want to make a lineup change after a win. The series is tied 1-1.
“It’s tough, watching regular-season games and especially playoffs,” Sbisa said. “It’s tough just to be up there, not being able to help the team. Finally, I’m able to be back in the lineup. Originally we thought it was going to be a four- or five-day thing and it turned into a two-, three-, four-week thing. So it makes it even harder to watch games, but the feeling is even better when I finally get back into the lineup.”
Souray stayed out with the extras for an extended period of time after the morning skate.
“I’m really not going to say why I make changes at this stage,” Boudreau said. “But there’s a possibility there may be a change. It’s going to be how I feel at 5 o'clock. I told all the defensemen to be ready.”
It looks like Kyle Palmieri will be moving up to play on the Ducks’ top line with center Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Palmieri scored his first goal of the series in Game 2 and it was a big one in the third period-rally, pulling the Ducks to within 4-3.
“It’s awesome -- obviously Bruce likes to mix it up, but at the same time this is going to be a big opportunity for me,” Palmieri said. “I've just got to go out there and play the way I did in the third period and just work hard and I think it’ll take care of itself.”
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