It was understood that this season was going to be a difficult one for the Red Wings. The retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and loss of Brad Stuart were two hits to a blueline that suddenly looked very thin compared to Wing teams of the past.

Carlo Colaiacovo was signed in the offseason to provide some veteran depth, and Brendan Smith looked ready to take the jump from the AHL and finally become a permanent fixture on the Wings' defense.

Unfortunately, injuries have been a major factor so far this season. Bad shoulders have limited Colaiacovo and Smith to two and eight games, respectively, and earlier injuries to Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl forced the Wings to look to Grand Rapids just to ice a full team.

Enter Brian Lashoff, a guy who has never been projected to be a top-pairing defenseman but was an undrafted free agent signed by the Wings. He has spent the last 2-plus seasons in Grand Rapids and been a good player for them, but injuries necessitated his call-up to Detroit. Lashoff was immediately paired with Niklas Kronwall, and so far has not looked completely out of place. In 12 games, he's notched his first NHL goal and assist, has seen time on the penalty kill, and generally has played well despite his lack of experience.