In the past month, the Detroit Red Wings have been hit with a number of key injuries. They have struggled and are only 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
The Wings are no longer in first place in the Western Conference, having been overtaken by the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. The Nashville Predators are nipping at their heels, only two points back in the division.
While Detroit expects to return to full strength before the playoffs begin, they will need more than just their top players to contribute if they have any chance at making a run for the Stanley Cup.
Smith has proven that he is ready for the NHL since being called from Grand the American Hockey League at the end of February.
Though he did have a bad giveaway that resulted in a goal last night, he has five points in 11 games this season and is plus-2. Smith also threw down the gloves against the Chicago Blackhawks.
With the way he has been playing, it would be tough to keep him out of the lineup even after Jonathan Ericsson returns.
Last year, Abdelkader had a number of costly penalties during the playoffs.
He went to the box five times in the second round series against San Jose, leading coach Mike Babcock to call out the young player before Game 7. Those penalties included cross-checking in Game 4, elbowing in Game 5 and holding in Game 6.
Each of those three penalties came in the third period.
Abdelkader has played well this season and brings a physical presence to the skilled Red Wings, but if he takes stupid penalties in the playoffs like he did last year, Detroit would be better off with him on the bench.
After having career season last year, Cleary has endured a disappointing year this season.
He had career highs with 26 goals and 46 points last season, but has only been able to find the back of the net 11 times this season.
Relegated to the third line, Cleary could be an extra spark for the Wings come playoff time if he's able to regain his form from last year.
With less than a month to go in the regular season, Darren Helm has put together a nice season thus far.
While not setting any career highs in points, Helm has scored nine goals and assisted on 17 others. Centering the third line, Helm has scored some big goals for Detroit this season.
Moved up to the second line in the absence of Pavel Datsyuk, Helm has performed well between Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist.
The speedy center will continue to be important on the Red Wings' third line when the team gets healthy again.
Quincey has slotted in nicely on the Wings' blue line, although he has not had a chance to develop chemistry with a consistent partner.
He was expected to play alongside Ericsson before the Swede went down with a broken wrist in February. Jakub Kindl is injured as well while Smith has returned from Grand Rapids.
While Nicklas Lidstrom has been on the injury shelf, Quincey has played next to Ian White.
Quincey is even in his nine games back in Detroit and has scored two points. He adds a physical presence in front of the net and it is important for the team that he continues his steady play.