Abdelkader returns for rematch vs. Flames
The Detroit Red Wings get Justin Abdelkader back, and the Calgary Flames begin a six-game, 12-day road trip with a question in goal when the two teams meet at Little Caesars Arena at 7:30 Wednesday night.
The contest is a rematch from last Thursday when the Flames (10-7-0) defeated the Red Wings (8-8-2) 6-3 at the ScotiaBank Saddledome in Calgary. That was when Abdelkader suffered a broken cheekbone in a fight with the Flames' Troy Brouwer that caused him to miss Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Detroit.
Abdelkader has two goals and nine points in 17 games this season.
"Certainly, having Abby back gives you another guy who's hard at the net, which we need to be," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told www.mlive.com. "He's a commodity on this hockey team because of the size and skill package that he brings. Certainly, he's a big factor for us."
Abdelkader will wear facial protection for the next six-to-eight weeks after being cleared to play by a specialist on Monday.
"I'm lucky that it's not a displaced fracture," he said. "It's still in alignment. It could be worse. Obviously, it's a frustrating injury anytime that happens, but definitely fortunate, too."
The status of Calgary goaltender Mike Smith was up in the air. He did not travel with the team to Detroit, according to the Calgary Sun. He left a 7-4 win over the St .Louis Blues Monday night in the first period with an undisclosed injury. And it was still a mystery Tuesday night. He has started 16 of Calgary's 17 games this season and is 9-6-0 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
The win over St. Louis – in which backup goalie Eddie Lack got the win in relief – concluded a seven-game homestand in which the Flames went 5-2-0.
"Having all four lines contribute is big for our confidence," Flames center Sam Bennett told calgaryflames.com. "We knew we could generate offense from all four lines. It wasn't a matter of if, but when."
Now the Flames hope to keep it going on the road, where they haven't played since Oct. 25 during their longest trip of the season.
Detroit will be without rookie right winger Martin Frk and defenseman Dan DeKeyser while Darren Helm is questionable.
Frk has a groin injury that could sideline him for up to a week, and DeKeyser will miss his 16th game with a hairline fracture of his ankle. Helm did not practice for the second straight day with an undisclosed injury.
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader suffered a fractured cheekbone in a fight with Troy Brouwer last week.