The development of NHL defensemen is rarely charted with a straight line, and it often takes a few seasons or more, sometimes well into their 20s, before the rough edges of blueliners' games are smooth.

The Red Wings await the full development of two of their prized, homegrown products, Jonathan Ericsson, 28, and Jakub Kindl, 25. And there were some encouraging signs from both of them, in the 4-1 victory over the Stars Tuesday.

That is good, because the Wings need them now.

With the defense depleted by departures of the great, near great and very good, and injuries depriving the Red Wings of some of the intended replacements, Ericsson and Kindl are no longer on the let's-see-how-they-do list.

They are officially on the do-it list.

"You've got to grab hold of it," coach Mike Babcock said. "You've got to reach out and grab hold of something, and then make it your own."

After a 2011-12 season in which Ericsson's play matured considerably, he started this year on the top pair with Niklas Kronwall. But a freak accident, stepping on a puck, caused an odd fall during practice, and Ericsson injured a hip.

He appeared in only his third game, Tuesday. But his value was immediately clear.

Returning from the January 20 injury on Sunday in Chicago, Ericsson played 21:57, second only to Kronwall.