Feb 15, 2011, 8:20 PM EST
While the top-ranked Vancouver Canucks keep losing defensemen, the Western Conference’s second place team looks to get a little stronger on Thursday. The Detroit Red Wings announced that defenseman Brad Stuart has been cleared to play in the team’s next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stuart has been out of action since suffering a broken jaw from a Tom Kostopoulos check on January 7th.
The rugged defenseman has 12 points and a +7 rating in 41 games with Detroit this season, averaging just a bit under 21 minutes of ice time per game.
Nicklas Lidstrom might be the happiest person regarding Stuart’s return. Stuart came into the league with high expectations as San Jose’s first round pick in 1998 (third overall), but hasn’t really been able to find a niche until he landed in Detroit. Lidstrom explains that Stuart provides a physical presence that makes him a nice match for the cerebral veteran’s style.
“No one had that physical element like Stewie does,” Lidstrom said. “It helps my game when we have that physical presence. I’m more a positional player. I’m not that physical a player like he is.
“It makes it that much harder to play against us when he’s out there.”
Stuart has been practising for a couple of weeks and Lidstrom said his teammates sensed he would be returning sooner than later by his demeanour.
“We can tell he’s anxious,” Lidstrom said.
- Daly: Fehr’s lockout prediction ‘naive and uneducated’ 20
- Pens send Downie, Sutter, Greiss home for mumps test (Updated) 13
- The Atlantic Division race is going to be fascinating 19
- Flyers rally as Zepp wins his career debut at 33 years old 22
- Oilers squander three-goal lead, lose 18th time in 19 games 11
- Pickard makes one last bid to stay, beats Wings in nine-round SO 6
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno 42
- Giroux line takes Leafs ‘to school’ in Flyers’ 7-4 victory 17
- Wolverine Pacioretty gets two assists just two days after being hospitalized 18
- Ovechkin scores beauty as Caps shutout Devils 9