Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 05/23/08 at 01:36 PM ET
Anti-digger Bruce MacLeod asks a pretty good question, “Has this story taken on a life of its own or what?”
Johan Franzen is on the ice with the Red Wings as they warm up for their practice.
I’m sure there are thousands wondering why such a big deal is being made of Franzen’s potential return. If you’re one of the thousands, let me refresh a few things for you.
Nobody’s scored more goals this playoff (12), even after missing 5 games. Nobody has more game winners (5). 27 goals his last 27 games. But wait. There’s more.
With Franzen back the entire Penguin strategy has to shift. Load up against the first line? Have at it. Roll the dice. Play your top checking line AND your two best defensemen. Gear up to stop Datsyuk and Zetterberg and leave the scraps for Cleary, Filppula and Franzen, a rested Franzen. We won’t even talk about what he can potentially bring to the second power play unit.
Franzen’s return—if he plays in Game 1 or 2—regardless of whether he comes back as prolific as when he left, shortens this series. Seven to six? Maybe. You could even try six to five.
More from MacLeod. Speculation was that he’d practice but not participate in any contact drills. Check that box too.
Franzen took a few shifts on a five-on-five battle drill with the second line (Filppula in the middle and Cleary on the right). He didn’t make contact with anyone, but participating in that drill is a good sign. Battle drills are the final hurdle before players are green-lighted for game action.
To be clear, Franzen just worked in on the second line. But I’d say that his participation in these drills makes him a true game-time decision for tomorrow.
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