DETROIT -- Riley Sheahan has shown up again and again as a healthy contributor for the Red Wings, playing with a loose confidence that has earned glowing reviews.
The Wings are hurting--for players, for points--and have had to rely heavily on their farm system the past month. The biggest young guy on the team is Sheahan, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound center who rejoined the Wings late last week because none of the injured guys were doing so.
Sheahan's card is punched to stay in Detroit at least through today, when the Wings return to practice after using Monday to rest from a week away. They finished their trip 2-2, having played well overall given how depleted they are. One of their victories came Saturday at Los Angeles, where Sheahan (pronounced Shay-han) picked up his first NHL goal, along with an assist, to reach four points in six appearances this season.
Sheahan, 22, followed that by playing 13 minutes in Sunday's 1-0 loss at Anaheim, including 4 minutes of power-play time. Asked afterward about using Sheahan so freely, coach Mike Babcock was full of praise.
"Riley Sheahan I thought was great," Babcock said. "He looks good defensively, he looks good offensively. He looks like a good player, and he can skate."
Sheahan spent the weekend centering Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Tatar. Tatar will miss the next game, Thursday at the New York Rangers, to travel to Slovakia to attend the funeral of his father.
The only move the Wings made Monday was to send defenseman Alexey Marchenko back to Grand Rapids. Sheahan is safe until it emerges whether anyone hurt will have healed by Thursday. That list features Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm in the center group, as well as wingers Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen. Datsyuk, Helm and Franzen have been practicing since the middle of last week, but as Babcock put it Sunday, "the injured guys never seem to come back."
Sheahan, a first-round draft pick from 2010, has been terrific, as has Luke Glendening, as was Tomas Jurco when he was up last month. But the glaring absence of NHL-tested forwards has been exposed especially on the power play, where the Wings aren't just failing to score, they're barely threatening, because they can't field a good-enough second unit. The Wings haven't scored with a man advantage dating back five games, going 0-for-21 in 2014. Sheahan has been a big help, literally, but as Babcock put it, "we've got to win another game. We need points badly."
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