Sharks-Wings: Lineup changes for Detroit?
DETROIT -- Betting money is on Kris Draper getting back into the Red Wings' lineup after missing the opening two games of the series, but coach Mike Babcock would not confirm that after practice Tuesday.
"I haven't decided on any lineup changes," Babcock said.
Draper, however, sounded as if he knew he was in.
"I want to do anything I can to help us win Game 3 and get back in this series," Draper said. "I'm just a spoke in the wheel. I just want to try to use my energy, my enthusiasm and go out there to try grind.
"If I get a chance to hit somebody, I'll hit somebody. I've played a lot of hockey with these guys. We've just got to be stronger on the puck, more determined on the puck and we've got to make those guys play in their own end."
Star centers Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were split up in practice Tuesday, Datsyuk between Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom and Zetterberg with Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary. But Babcock also wouldn't confirm that's a go for Game 3.
"I haven't decided who's playing with who for tomorrow as of yet," he said. "I haven't decided who's in either."
Veteran center Mike Modano is itching to get back in, but it doesn't appear that's in the cards for Game 3. He's played in only one game in these playoffs, Game 4 against Phoenix in which Johan Franzen was out with an ankle injury.
"It's difficult to say the least," Modano said Tuesday after practice. "I went through a three-month injury to get back to what you feel is game shape and game-ready. But the team is playing well, and there's no room to change the lineup at that point. It's upsetting but there's not much you can do about it."
The 40-year-old doesn't want his career to end as a healthy scratch but, at the same time, understands why these decisions are being made. He was asked whether a player of his experience could help now with the Wings down 2-0 in the series.
"I've played a few games and had some good runs in the playoffs, but it's about now," Modano said. "If I lived off my past, I'd probably be in there. It's about what you can contribute now. That's what the old guys battle with when you get at that age and hang around and play, there's a sense there's still something left."
Babcock said having to scratch quality veterans such as Draper and Modano isn't the easiest thing to do.
"In the regular season, to be honest with you, I find it hard," Babcock said. "The reason I say that is you're trying to build your team, you're trying to get everybody in and treat everybody with respect and ... play the right players at the right time. At playoff time, you're doing whatever you think as a coach is the right thing for your organization. Does it make the conversation any easier? No, but I think the decision part is easier."
The snow-shower soap opera received more attention Tuesday.
The Red Wings are reportedly upset that a few Sharks players sprayed goalie Jimmy Howard with unnecessary snow showers in the opening two games and feel a penalty should be called on that play.
A source told ESPN.com that the Wings plan to bring it up Wednesday morning during their routine game-day meeting with series supervisor Kris King of the NHL.
In the meantime, Sharks coach Todd McLellan insisted it's not a tactic he's espousing.
"I have no time for gimmicks and circus acts," McLellan said Tuesday. "I will address it with our players. My feedback from them is that there is no intent. We are going to the blue paint and no one is going to take that away from us. We're going to stop at the blue paint and we're going to stand there."
The question is where do you draw the line between going hard to the net, which McLellan wants his players to do, and spraying Howard for no reason? The refs on the ice Wednesday night will need to make that assertion.
Rafalski's status for Game 3
Veteran Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski didn't skate Tuesday, but Babcock said he's playing Wednesday night.
The Wings got the full day off Monday, so make that two days off in a row for Rafalski. Clearly there's something bothering him. Then again, who doesn't have some sort of nagging injury at this time of year?
Babcock was asked whether his team suddenly lacked confidence against the Sharks, who seem to have had Detroit's number of the last 12 months.
"All I know is they won 4-1 last year and they're up 2-0 this year," Babcock said. "By my math, that's 6-1. So the bottom line is we've got to win a game and we've got to win our next game. That's the way we're looking at it. Let's get prepared and relaxed today and prepared for the first shift tomorrow and get after it. There's no question what the body of work describes. They've been better than us. If we want to keep playing, we've got to be better than them."
The Wings are clearly focused on one thing in particular heading into Game 3.
"I want our forwards to spend more time in the offensive zone with sustained pressure," Babcock said. "And we can backcheck harder. We can be harder all over -- all our forwards. That has nothing to do with who's playing."
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said part of getting more sustained pressure in the offensive zone is to make better decisions with the puck.
"We have to try and find a way to just throw the puck on the net, get traffic and generate offense that way," Kronwall said. "So far it's been one shot here and one shot there and here they come. We have to be better at sustaining pressure in their zone."