Kronwall to make debut in Arizona
Glendale, Ariz. — He’s been at this a long time, played 13 seasons, but Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall was excited.
There was a gleam in his eye after Thursday’s morning skate, knowing he’d be in the lineup for the first time this season that night against the Coyotes.
“I’m anxious to get back in there and play again,” Kronwall said.
In terms of health, it hasn’t been the start Kronwall, 36, would have wanted.
Already troubled by a chronic bad knee, Kronwall had to sit and watch most of training camp and the exhibition season because of back spasms.
Once that was cured, and Kronwall was able to play an exhibition game, he was slowed by a sore groin.
The groin injury kept Kronwall out of the first three regular season games, as both he and the Red Wings didn’t wanted to be cautious and careful.
But after several good days of skating, Kronwall was ready to finally play.
“We wanted to take the approach of making sure when he comes back, he stays in (the lineup),” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.
Kronwall’s return was timely, in that defenseman Danny DeKeyser suffered a lower body injury during Tuesday’s loss in Dallas. DeKeyser is considered day-to-day, though it’s questionable he’d be able to return tonight in Las Vegas.
So will Kronwall be able to jump right into a back-to-back situation and play both games?
“We’ll see,” Blashill said. “Tomorrow is a new day. We’ll see what that brings. We just want to make sure (about Thursday’s game).”
Kronwall didn’t leave any doubt he’s “hoping to play” both, and many more after that.
The chronic knee issues that caused Kronwall to miss some of the first half of last season, weren’t as big of a problem later in the schedule. Kronwall, in fact, felt better with more playing time and games played and isn’t shy about saying he wants to play as many games as he can this season.
Simply listening to his body, and taking precautions, are key to any veteran player.
“Just look after the body and stay focused on the most important thing, which is to play games,” Kronwall said.
“Everything feels pretty good right now so I’m anxious to get going.”
At this point in his career, Kronwall is savvy enough to know when he needs to sit out if necessary.
Injuries have been more prevalent later in his career, forcing him to miss more games than he’d like.
“It’s been a little bit frustrating,” Kronwall said.
“It’s always going to be a little bit of a rollercoaster. But in saying that, it’s happened to me quite a few times now and you just have to keep your head high and focus on the goal, which is to get back in the game. Just do whatever you can today to prepare yourself for tomorrow and put yourself in a better spot.”