TORONTO – The Detroit Red Wings could ill afford to lose another top forward but that’s exactly what happened in Toronto on Saturday night.
Jason Williams became the Red Wings latest casualty after crashing hard into the boards during the second period of Detroit 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs.
The 29-year-old right-winger was on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the dressing room.
Williams was off to a relatively slow start with two goals and seven points through 14 games, but was still fifth on the team in scoring. He will now likely miss at least two months with what is being called a fractured right fibula.
“Losing Willy was a blow to us,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “He’s playing more minutes and in more situations than we anticipated. But that’s just the way it’s gone.”
The Red Wings were already without winger Johan Franzen, the team’s No. 2 scorer last season with 34 goals, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the third game of the season and is out until February.
Detroit is also missing fourth-year centre Valtteri Filppula, 25, who broke his wrist at the end of October and will be missing until late December.
Both players were expected to step up this season and help replace the 88 goals and 187 points the Red Wings lost when Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky signed elsewhere after July 1.
Williams was in that mix, too. Now it looks as if the Wings will have to replace him.
“There’s no sense worrying about the guys who aren’t available,” said Babcock. “We’ve got to find a way as a group to get a win.”
After leading the NHL in offence last season and averaging more than three-and-a-half goals per game, Detroit is languishing in 15th overall in the same category through 15 games this season scoring well below three goals a contest.
The Wings had five 20-goal scorers last season but have just two players, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom, on pace to reach the mark in 2009-10.
“We’re not going to be able to score as we did,” Babcock said. “We’re going to have to do a better job defensively, and we’re going to have to get good goaltending and good specialty teams.”