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Babcock cited his former assistant, the late Brad McCrimmon, in describing a good way to judge a player's importance: "When you're thinking of trading somebody, make sure they get hurt for two weeks and evaluate your team without them.
"I think the appreciation for Jonathan Ericsson went through the roof when we lost everybody. When Big E wasn't there, our penalty kill wasn't even close. And since he's gotten back, we seem to be back on track."
Having Ericsson back has been helpful for the goaltenders, too.
"He does a great job on the PK of blocking shots and using his long stick to his advantage," Jimmy Howard said. "Having a big body out there like that makes a goalie's life a little bit easier."