Ben Chiarot adding physical presence that Red Wings have been lacking

Detroit News

Dominik Kubalik couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight, the carnage in reality.

In Sunday’s game against Anaheim, during a shift in the second period, defenseman Ben Chiarot was knocking around any Ducks forward in Chiarot’s line of vision.

The Little Caesars Arena crowd was roaring, Ducks players were left wondering who hit them, and Kubalik was simply glad he was on the Wings and not facing Chiarot.

“I was watching when he was running around and killing people,” Kubalik joked. “That was kind of nice. I caught myself laughing.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, he’s doing it again.'”

The Wings signed Chiarot on the first day of free agency to bolster the defense, while adding a measure of physical play they were lacking.

Chiarot (6-foot-3, 232-pounds) has fit nicely into the lineup, paired with Moritz Seider, while making the Wings a tougher team to play against.

“He felt he got hit from behind there,” coach Derek Lalonde said of what set Chiarot off before that hitting spree. “He joked after the second (period) that a few years ago, that probably would have been 15 minutes of penalties, but he felt he did it the right way. He went physical, basically won the shift, so it was a positive.”

Kubalik remembers facing Chiarot, when the defenseman was with Montreal or Florida the past couple of seasons and knowing it would be a rugged evening.

“He’s hard to play against,” Kubalik said. “I do know that he wants to play the body, which is good. It gives you a special energy, too. He’s making plays with the right decisions, and it’s nice to see when he’s throwing bodies like that around.”

Chiarot’s physicality also makes it a little easier evening for goaltender Ville Husso, as opponents are likely looking around to see where Chairot is.

“Especially for those skill guys, he makes the night for them hard,” Husso said. “He’s a great defenseman, plays physical, always in the right spot, too.”

Lalonde saw plenty of Chiarot the last two seasons, when Lalonde was on Tampa Bay’s coaching staff, and the Lightning faced Chiarot’s Canadiens and Panthers in the playoffs. Lalonde was a fan back then.

“Always appreciated his game from afar,” Lalonde said. “He’s committed to playing defense. In (training) camp, it opened me up a little bit to his skating ability and his thinking, so it’s probably a little more than even I anticipated.”

Luff recalled

As expected, forward Oskar Sundqvist (upper-body) was unavailable to face the Bruins, after missing Wednesday’s practice.

The Wings recalled forward Matt Luff from minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids, with Luff expected to be in the lineup against the Bruins.

Luff, 25, was off to a fine start with the Griffins, with three goals and four assists (seven points) in five games. Luff (6-2, 196 pounds) was signed as a free agent in July, after splitting last season between Nashville (23 games, three goals, three assists) and the Predators’ farm club, Milwaukee (14 goals, 31 points in 31 games).

Luff has played parts of four NHL seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and Predators, recording 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 87 games.

Sundqvist was minus-three Tuesday against New Jersey and labored through the injury.

“He wasn’t himself,” Lalonde said. “I love the competitiveness in him trying to fight through it, but if I had that over to do again, we may have not played him because he obviously wasn’t himself.”

Ice chips

Expect Lalonde to continue to shuffle lines and take looks at different personnel playing in different combinations, as he searches for the right lineup.

“We’re still working through some things and trying to get some different guys going, some guys that can complement each other,” Lalonde said. “We’re going to be in this blender look for a while.”

… Goaltender Sebastian Cossa (2011 first-round draft pick) has been recalled to Grand Rapids after goaltender Victor Brattstrom was hurt last weekend. Cossa is expected to get a start as Grand Rapids begins an eight-game road trip with a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday against Texas.

Between Toledo (ECHL) and Grand Rapids, Cossa is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average this season and .906 save percentage.

… As for the Wings’ goaltenders, expect both Husso and Alex Nedeljkovic to keep alternating starts for the foreseeable future, as they’ve done to start this season

“Both have deserved the net,” Lalonde said. “I don’t know if I foresee that (rotation) changing. Both goalies are winning, both goalies are playing well.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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