Drew Miller to play with injured face

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings forward Drew Miller narrowly avoided what could have been a more devastating eye injury after catching an opponent's skate blade to his face Tuesday night, but even that harrowing incident, and the nearly 60 stitches that followed, is not enough to keep him out of the lineup.

Miller announced after the team's Thursday morning skate that he will play in Thursday night's game against the Boston Bruins.

"Big game for our team, so I'm excited to get back out there and help the team out," Miller said.

The Red Wings occupy the third spot in the Atlantic Division, but the Bruins have the chance to pull even, at least in points, with a regulation win Thursday night.

"That's laying it on the line for your buddies," coach Mike Babcock said of Miller's toughness.

Miller will sport a full face shield as protection for his eye, which is still bruised and swollen. He said he's grown reasonably comfortable with wearing one over the past few days of practice.

"You wear a half-shield for so long and add a piece on the bottom and it's a little bit different, but two days with it on, I feel comfortable and confident playing in it," Miller said. "It'd be different if [Henrik] Zetterberg was not able to see the puck, but it's a little different for me -- block shots and chip the puck out, I think it'll be OK."

Miller admitted it was a frightening incident but says he feels fortunate it didn't turn out worse.

"It was definitely very scary. I thought my eye was cut or gone or something was going on with it. I knew it wasn't good," Miller said. "So, I got really lucky and very thankful that nothing happened to my actual eyeball. I can live with a scar and some stitches, but I don't want to live without my eye."

"We're proud of Millsy and we need him," Babcock said, referencing the team's injury-depleted lineup.

The Wings will be without Pavel Datsyuk for the second straight game. Veteran forward Erik Cole and Tomas Jurco are also out. Riley Sheahan's status has yet to be determined though he remains a possibility to play.