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Red Wings-Coyotes Game 1 game-day updates: Mike Modano’s out for Detroit, Kronwall’s in

Updated 10x at 2:59 with Pang speculation, Modano and Franzen talk and WXYT video: Surprising news as the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (7 PM, FSD/FS Arizona/versus/CBC/WXYT): the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that Wings coach Mike Babcock has chosen to sit Mike Modano as a healthy scratch:

Modano, of Westland, was brought in by the Wings last summer specifically to make them more competitive in the playoffs, but his season was hampered severely by a devastating wrist injury. Since returning in late February, Modano’s play has been up and down, and now he’ll be on the sidelines until needed.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I just need to continue to do what I’m doing and you wait for the call, and then hopefully you take advantage of it.”

The Wings are expected to start with these lines:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom

Cleary-Abdelkader-Bertuzzi

Hudler-Filppula-Miller

Draper-Helm-Eaves

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said he is ready to return after missing five games with an upper-body injury.

MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...

I talked to Mike and he explained it to me. I totally understand it,’’ Modano said. “It’s up to me now if I get the opportunity to give him a reason not to take me back out.’‘

Modano played in 20 games after returning from surgery Nov. 26 to repair torn ligaments in his wrist. But he couldn’t get into a groove.

“It’s been a difficult season, played a lot of catchup (after getting back), trying to get up to these guys,’’ Modano said. “At that point the team was pretty solidified, the lines and everything. You needed to do something extraordinary to get in there. If that chance comes, try to take advantage of it.’‘

Modano played only 6:30 in the season finale at Chicago Sunday, so the handwriting was on the wall.

“It’s a huge decision. We brought him here for (playoffs),’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s out of Game 1, he’s got to get himself ready for Game 2. I imagine it was very tough for Mike. It wasn’t easy for myself or the coaches to make this decision, either.’‘

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan also confirms:

“It’s tough; I just need to continue to do what I’m doing and wait for that call and hopefully take advantage of it,” Modano said. “It’s been a difficult year, a difficult season. I played a lot of catch-up (after returning from the lacerated wrist injury), but the lines were pretty solidified and you had to do something extraordinary to get in there. I’ll just have to wait for a chance and take advantage of it.”

Henrik Zetterberg (knee) is also out, while Niklas Kronwall (sore shoulder) is optimistic he’ll be in the lineup.

“I feel good out there, no complaints,” Kronwall said.

Ruslan Salei will be the sixth defenseman with Jakub Kindl sitting out.

Kulfan put things a little more bluntly in his blog:

Obviously it hasn’t gone the way he or the Wings would want it to go thus far this season. When Modano was signed, it was expected he’d be great fit for the third line and be a huge piece in the playoffs.

A lacerated right wrist cost Modano three months during the regular season and he failed to earn a spot in the lineup after returning.

It just hasn’t worked out. Yet, anyway.

Update #1: In the multimedia department…

RedWings play-by-play man Ken Daniels spoke to WCSX’s Jamie Samuelssen this morning…


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As well as WBBL’s Bakita and Grey:


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Mickey Redmond spoke to WRIF’s Drew and Mike…


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The Coyotes’ website posted audio clips of Vernon Fiddler and assistant coach Doug Sulliman...

And Todd Walsh just reported that Derek Morris won’t play for Phoenix due to an “upper body” injury;

The Wings’ website just posted a video of Kris Draper and Nicklas Lidstrom speaking about the excitement of playing in the playoffs…

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And today’s playoff moment on the Wings’ “20 Straight” website involves winning the Cup in 2008.

Update #2: The Sporting News’s Craig Custance broke the story on Twitter, and here’s his report:

“It’s tough, I just need to continue to do what I’m doing,” Modano said following Wednesday’s morning skate. “You wait for the call and hopefully you take advantage of it. It’s been a difficult year.”

It’s looking more and more likely this will be Modano’s final season before retirement. He had 15 points in 40 games with the Red Wings, missing most of the season after severing a tendon in his wrist.

At 40 years old, Modano has found recovery to be a longer process, physically and mentally. Now, he waits for the opportunity to make an impact in the postseason.

“You never know, things happen, injuries happen,” he said. “If that chance comes, I’ll try to take advantage of it.”

The Red Wings will likely get defenseman Niklas Kronwall back in the lineup. He said he felt good during Wednesday’s skate and anticipates playing tonight. Kronwall missed the regular season’s final five games with an upper-body injury.

“Yeah, looks like it,” he told Sporting News.

• In the playoff preview department, a few late-breakers slid under the radar: MLive’s Ansar Khan broke down the Wings-Coyotes match-up, spoke to the Wings about their depth up front and duly noted that the Wings must play much better defensively;

• The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness also broke down the match-up

Here’s what Mike Babcock had to say to Pleiness about scratching Modano...

“It’s a huge decision with who he is and his career,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We brought him here for this.”

Modano missed 41 games this season after he lacerated his wrist on Nov. 26 in Columbus.

He wound up playing just 40 games this season registering four goals and 11 assists.

“He’s out of Game 1 and he’s got to get himself ready for Game 2,” Babcock added. “I imagine it was very tough for Mike. It wasn’t easy for myself of the coaches to make this decisions either. But in the end it’s not about Mike Babcock or Mike (Modano) it’s simply about the Red Wings and we’re going to do whatever we can to help our self win.”

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James both noted Modano’s reaction and posted the Wings’ full lineup...

“I totally understand it,” Modano said. “It’s up to me if I get the opportunity to just give him a reason not to take me back out.”

For much of the past month, Babcock has gone with a rotation of scratching either Kris Draper or Drew Miller. Both are in tonight, as Henrik Zetterberg remains sidelined indefinitely by a knee injury.

The Wings are expected to start with these lines:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom

Cleary-Abdelkader-Bertuzzi

Hudler-Filppula-Miller

Draper-Helm-Eaves

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said he is ready to return after missing five games with an upper-body injury. He’ll start with Ruslan Salei, leaving Nicklas Lidstrom with Brad Stuart and Jonathan Ericsson with Brian Rafalski. Jimmy Howard is in goal.

Khan also spoke to Jimmy Howard about taking a more even-keeled approach to the playoffs this time around, and he updated the Coyotes’ lineup and the referees’ assignments:

For Phoenix, defenseman Derek Morris is out for Game 1 due to an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Coach Dave Tippett said he’ll be replaced by David Schlemko or Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Here are Phoenix’s anticipated lines:

Ray Whitney-Eric Belanger-Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt-Vernon Fiddler-Lee Stempniak
Lauri Korpikoski-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Kyle Turris-Andrew Ebbett-Paul Bissonnette

Not sure how Morris’ injury will affect the defense pairings.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Jason LaBarbera

Tonight’s referees are Paul Devorski and Steve Kozari.

According to NHL.com’s Jerry Brown, the Coyotes are heading into tonight’s game fully ready to play the “spoiler’s” role:

“This is a different team,” defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We have a lot of things going for us. We’re more ready for what’s coming.”
...
“You remember the experience. You’re more comfortable and it allows you to do your job better,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “Players like Whitney and Belanger are going to help us because they’ve been there before in other places, but the core of this team also has the feelings of last year and going through it. There were lessons learned. But this is a different group and now you want to share the experience of advancing.”

On defense, in-season trades have brought veterans Rostislav Klesla and Michal Rozsival to a defense core that already boasts one of the league’s top offensive players (Keith Yandle) and a trio of veteran hands (Adrian Aucoin, Jovanovski and Derek Morris). That not only decreases the workload on each man on the blue line, it give the Coyotes more size and experience to deal with cagy Red Wings like Todd Bertuzzi, Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom as well as stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the latter of whom will miss at least Game 1 due to injury.

“We’re a deeper team,” said Jovanovski, who missed 32 games this season with injuries, including 20 due to orbital bone surgery, and returned just last week. “I’m anxious to see how we react. I have a good feeling because I like the team we have.”

The Coyotes are also getting healthy at the right time. Center Martin Hanzal, who missed 12 games with a lower-body injury, returned last week. That gives Phoenix its top two-way center, one of its top faceoff men, a strong penalty killer and an important piece among its top nine forwards. It allows the checking line of Taylor Pyatt, Vernon Fiddler and Lee Stempniak to remain intact, gives Radim Vrbata his best playing partner and allows Whitney to join Belanger and Shane Doan on what was an effective top line down the stretch. The Coyotes also have a healthy and motivated Doan, who saw his season end in Game 3 of last year’s playoffs when he dislocated his shoulder in a freak fall. This time around, every Phoenix player on the roster is available to Tippett for Game 1.
...
“There’s something about Detroit that brings the best out in us,” Jovanovski said. “You can hear a pin drop in the room before we play them. We know if you don’t play well, they can make you look bad. It’s a challenge and something everyone looks forward to.”

And Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner argues that Valtteri Filppula must step up to fill Zetterberg’s scoring void:

Drafted in the third round (95th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, the native of Vantaa, Finland, appeared to be on the fast track to Motown stardom. Fellow countryman Teemu Selanne was a friend, mentor and fan, which translated into instant credibility for Filppula around the league.

At this point in his career, Filppula has played in 361 games and has accumulated 168 points with 68 goals, 100 assists and is a plus-29. In 75 playoff games, his numbers are better—41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) and he’s a plus-14. Filppula’s development has been slowed the last couple of years because injuries—26 games lost last season with a broken right wrist and 11 games this season with a tender groin and an issue with his left knee. But despite the injuries, he knows expectations are high.

“I think it’s good that coach is pushing me,” Filppula said. “That’s one of the key points to being a coach. I’m working on it, and hopefully, I can do it (elevate his game).” 
 
If Zetterberg, who is nursing an injury to his left knee and will sit out at least Game 1 vs. the Coyotes, is lost for any significant time during this playoff run, Filppula will need to play his best hockey ever—at both ends of the ice.

“I would hope to be a player like that ... come playoffs to be at your best,” said Filppula. “I don’t know if I am, but I definitely like the idea.”

Filppula’s idea needs to become a reality or the Wings could become Coyote bait.

And the Wings’ website just posted Babcock’s game-day presser…

And NHL on the Fly’s game preview:

 

update #3: Here’s Michael Caples’ confirmation that Kronwall’s in...

Kronwall suffered an upper body injury last month and missed the last five games of the regular-season. Still, he was positive about being able to immediately contribute.

“I had no problems with the skate this morning,” Kronwall said. “I feel great, and I’m very excited.”

Tuesday was the first time that Kronwall participated in practice with his teammates since the injury. The 30-year-old Swede hasn’t seen game action since the Wings hosted the St. Louis Blues on March 30.

Kronwall led the Wings in blocked shots this season (129), his second time leading the team in that category. He was second behind only captain Nicklas Lidstrom for goals scored by a defenseman (11), and third on the Wings’ defense for total points (37).  Kronwall averaged almost 23 minutes per game in the regular-season.

Defenseman Jakub Kindl will be scratched to make room for Kronwall.

And Dave Burke’s report about Modano:

“This morning I talked to Mike and he explained it to me,” the 40 year old Modano said, referring to Babcock. “I totally understand it, and it’s up to me now if I get the opportunity to give him a reason to not take me back out.”

Modano has played in only 40 games this season, much of the missed time stemming from a wrist injury that occurred when he was slashed on the right wrist by a skate blade in November. All that missed time likely has a factor in Babcock’s decision.

“It’s been a difficult year, a difficult season,” said Modano, who has 58 goals and 87 assists in 174 career playoff games – all with the Stars franchise. “I played a lot catch up in the spring, and trying to get up to these guys, but at that point the team was pretty solidified in their lines and everything was going. So you needed to do something extraordinary to get in there, so if that chance comes you try to take advantage of it.”

For Babcock, sitting the all-time leading American-born point scorer, who has 21 seasons of experience under his belt, cannot be taken lightly.

“It’s a huge decision,” Babcock said. “In the end, to me it’s not about Mike Babcock or Mike (Modano) or anything. It’s simply about the Red Wings and we’re going to do whatever we can to help ourselves win.”

• I wasn’t able to transcript Mike Babcock’s interview with WDFN’s Shep and Sharp yesterday…


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But Sportsradiointerviews.com’s Stephen Cuce

• In the playoff preview vein,

SI’s Adrian Dater, Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski (Puck Daddy’s staff playoff picks are also available);

• USA Today’s Kevin Allen offers an intriguing question...

5. Are the Detroit Red Wings still the Red Wings?

The skinny: After a Detroit-like strong start, the Red Wings began to leak oil, as Detroit broadcaster Mickey Redmond termed it. Late in the season, there were games when they looked like they had thrown a rod through the engine block. Down the stretch, they gave up too many scoring chances, and their offense didn’t look nearly as dangerous as it has in the past. The Red Wings are looking for Johan Franzen to pick up his game, particularly with Henrik Zetterberg out of the lineup. Franzen’s scoring touch was missing over the final 20-plus games. He usually plays well in the postseason, evidenced by 31 goals in his last 51 playoff games. The Red Wings hope that warhorse Mike Modano can provide a spark.

• The Coyotes’ website just posted audio of coach Dave Tippett’s presser, in which he confirms that Derek Morris is out, and Todd Walsh posted Shane Doan’s morning comments:

• And the Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio fired off two tweets:

“He’s the best goalie in the league,” Holmstrom says of Bryzgalov.
...
#Derek #Morris out (bumps & bruises), either #OEL or #Schlemko in.

“OEL” would be Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

• Also from the Wings:

MOTORCITY CASINO HOTEL GOES RED FOR RED WINGS PLAYOFF

Entertainment complex will glow red and white on game days

DETROIT (12 April 2011) – To show its support of the Detroit Red Wings’ 20th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, MotorCity Casino Hotel will shine red and white on all Red Wings game days during the 2011 NHL post-season.

MotorCity is clad with nearly 4,800 linear feet of LED (light-emitting diodes) high-intensity programmable light tubes (approximately 60,000 individual LEDs).  They are capable of 16.7 million colors, and are fully programmable to present light shows reflective of the seasons, holidays and local festivities.  It has been said that they can be seen from flights arriving at Detroit’s Metro Airport, as well as across the Detroit River by our Canadian neighbors. These energy-efficient fixtures use less than half the power of an incandescent bulb and can last 10 years.

Update #4: Finding this hard to believe, via the Free Press’s George Sipple:

[Shane] Doan scored a goal and an assist in three games last season before stumbling over Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard and falling into the boards in Game 3. The Coyotes had a 2-1 lead in the series but Doan suffered an upper body injury that caused him to miss the rest of the postseason.

“I never really thought if it that way,” Doan said when asked about having a grudge against the Wings. “In the playoffs, you want to play. You’re frustrated when you don’t get the opportunity to and last year was disappointing for me. I don’t know if there’s any real grudge. At the same time, I wasn’t happy the way the year ended last year. I think we’ve played them four times in the playoffs and haven’t beaten them yet. So I want to find a way to win.”

NOTEBOOK: Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said defenseman Derek Morris will not play tonight. “He’s day to day with an upper body injury,” Tippett said. Tippett said either Oliver Ekman-Larsson (1-10—11 in 48 games) or David Schlemko (4-10—14 in 43 games) will play instead.

Via I Love Detroit on Twitter, the Ren Cen is red today!

Update #5: Kulfan posted a few quotes in his game-day update he offfers an interactive set of match-ups in his series preview, and he spoke to Johan Franzen and Mike Babcock about the Mule’s time of year:

“The Mule loves this time of year,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s been great this time of year.”

Franzen hopes it continues — especially after an end to the regular season in which Franzen scored two goals in his final 27 games, after scoring five goals in a game Feb. 2 in Ottawa.

“It was just one of those games when everything (works),” Franzen said of the Ottawa game. “I didn’t really read anything into that game. It was just a lucky game, it happened.”

Franzen can’t explain his playoff success, though.

“The whole team is stepping up and the games are tighter and it’s intense out there,” Franzen said. “I thrive on that and the team does as well. We play better and I play better.”

Franzen sees this as an opportunity to forget the last two months of the season.

“It’s fun, it’s like starting over,” Franzen said. “It’s a fresh start.”

• If you’re interested, the Macomb Daily posted a spiffy YouTube video in George Pohly’s tribute to Nicklas Lidstrom;

• And, for now, WXYT’s Mike “Stoney” Stone is picking the Wings in seven.

Update #6: The Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski has weighed in with his Wings-Coyotes prediction and NHL playoff picks;

• The AP’s Ira Podell states the obvious...

As familiar as spring weather is an appearance by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup playoffs. For the previous 13 seasons they were joined by the New Jersey Devils, but that changed because the Devils did not qualify this year. The last time Detroit sat out the postseason was 1990. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, in his 19th NHL season, has seen it all. Throughout his surely Hall of Fame career, Lidstrom has only worn a winged wheel sweater and has never missed the playoffs.

He got a bit of a scare last year when Detroit qualified as only the No. 5 seed. But Lidstrom and the Red Wings still managed to reach the second round with a tough, seven-game series win over the Phoenix Coyotes — their first-round opponent again.

“Having been with such a good organization for 20 years, and being part of a winning tradition here, you almost take it for granted,” Lidstrom said of being a playoff staple. “Last year was the hardest one where we really had to focus and get some wins and had our backs up against the wall for pretty much the whole season.

“It’s always been fun going into the playoffs. People are always waiting for April to come around for the playoffs.”

And why not?

Not only have the Red Wings made it a habit to be in the playoffs, they are always a threat to win it all. During this 20-season run, Detroit has captured the Cup four times and been to the finals in two other years.

The Central Division champions own the No. 3 seed this time. If they advance past Phoenix again they could pose a serious threat to the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks and the second-seeded San Jose Sharks, who — despite being a dominant regular-season team in recent years — are still seeking their first trip to the finals.

• And the Sporting News’s Craig Custance updates the Morris story:

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris didn’t practice on Wednesday and will miss the first game of his team’s Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings. Morris is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, and coach Dave Tippett didn’t reveal who will replace him in the lineup for Wednesday’s game.

“We have a couple choices there,” Tippett said. “(David) Schlemko or (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson will be in.

It places even more pressure on the shoulders of talented defenseman Keith Yandle, who according to the website DobberHockey.com was paired with Morris for 61.4 percent of his ice time at even strength during the regular season. Yandle had a strong offensive season with 11 goals and 48 assists while refining his defensive game. He now becomes a key player in this series.

“I think everybody else has to step up,” Yandle said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “Even the offensive guys, we just have to be batter.”

• And after confirming that the Fox Theatre and MotorCity Casino will “go red” on game days, DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples duly noted that the Wings believe that they must win faceoffs against the Coyotes to kick-start their puck possession game:

“It’s one of those intangibles that you talk about in a series,” said Draper, a veteran of 214 playoff games. “The team that wins more face-offs is going to have the puck more, and obviously we’re a puck-possession team, so that’s something we put a big onus on. Centers, every time they go in there, they want to win it, but there’s a plan. Wingers have to help out, D-men have to be ready, so really it’s just five guys on the ice just trying to win that first battle. That’s how every play starts.”

The Western Conference quarterfinals match-up between the Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes will feature two of the top face-off teams in the NHL. Detroit ranked third in the league, winning 51.9 percent of its draws. Meanwhile, Phoenix finished seventh at 51.4 percent. With the exception of Tomas Holmstrom – who is a perfect 100 percent after taking one draw all season – Draper leads the Wings in face-off win percentage. One of the keys to winning, Draper said, is being as aggressive as possible, even if that means being kicked out of the face-off circle by the linesman. A center can be ejected from the face-off dot for various reasons, including moving too soon, not lining his stick or skate up properly, or one of his teammates jumps into the face-off circle too early.

“In the face-off circle, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” Draper said. “You want to try to get that – you want that face-off. If you get a little jump on a guy, chances are you’re going to get it. The one good thing is with the way a lot of our lines are set up, everyone has a couple centermen, so the first guy can go in, kind of try to win that face-off knowing that the second guy is going to come in. Like I said, for us, guys go in with a plan, an idea, and everyone’s on board for knowing what they’re going to do to try to help that centerman win that draw.”
...
“You never want to lose a draw clean,” Abdelkader said. “That’s one thing that I’ve been learning over the last few years. You don’t want to lose the draw clean when you’re lining up. That’s the most important thing for me, and just battling it out and trying to scratch and claw and win as much as you can.”

The main foes for the Wings in this opening series are Coyotes centers Eric Belanger (55.3 percent) and Vernon Fiddler (53.9 percent). Draper said that both of Phoenix’s veteran centers have all the skills that make for talented face-off men.

“Belanger and Fiddler: they’re good guys,” Draper said. “Good with their stick, good with their feet. So that’s something that always helps. Guys are going to try to tie up and try to kick it. In the defensive zone you know that they can use their glove as well; if it’s tied up and it’s in your feet you can use your glove to bat it back. So it’s just the little things. They’ve taken a lot of draws, you kind of get some little tricks you can use.”

• Coyotes.com’s Dave Vest just posted his game-day game preview...

“There were lessons learned [from last season],” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “But this is a different group and now you want to share the experience of advancing.”

The Coyotes posted a 2-0-2 record vs. Detroit this season, including a 4-2 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 28. Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov posted a 2-0-2 record, and 2.63 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in four games played vs. Detroit this season.

“It’s the playoffs,” Bryzgalov said. “It’s all marbles on the floor. You’d better play hard.”

Coyotes captain Shane Doan is eager for the rematch with the Red Wings, especially considering he missed the last four games of the 2009-10 playoff series after separating a shoulder in Game 3.

“To wait so long for that chance and to have it taken away just like that … it’s one of the moments in my career I will never forget,” Doan said. “I never wanted something more on the ice than to play in those games. But guess what? We have another chance.”

Games 1 and 2 will be played in Detroit before the series shifts to Glendale. That’s OK with the Coyotes, who posted the fourth-best road record in the Western Conference (22-13-6) during the regular season. Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris will not play tonight because of an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day. Either David Schlemko or Oliver Ekman-Larsson will make his NHL playoff debut in place of Morris.

Update #7: Here’s Jeff Riger’s game day update and videos:

Babcock and the Red Wings organization make no secret about the fact that their players and teams will be judged by what happens in the playoffs and that is how it should be. So let the judging begin… Below are some of the things that were overheard at practice…

-Jimmy Howard claims that he is calmer this postseason compared to last year’s playoffs.

-When I asked Henrik Zetterberg if he expects to play in the entire first round he seemed very unsure. Zetterberg has a lower body injury where it seems like the left knee is affected. He has been wearing a brace and has not been able to skate since injuring it and doesn’t know when he will.

-Nick Kronwall is chomping at the bit to get back in a game after dealing with a lower body injury and is a game time decision for Wednesday night.

-Nick Lidstrom was talking about feeling like an 18 year old because the playoffs are about to start and the regular season is finally over.

-Mike Babcock says that Joey MacDonald is the back up to Jimmy Howard for the time being but after Chris Osgood gets more practice then that could change.

Here’s Riger with Kronwall…

Zetterberg…

Babcock…

And Lidstrom:

Update #8: Mike Modano made a surprising comment to NHL.com’s Brian Hedger about the Wild knocking the Stars out of the playoffs...

It was unfortunate, but Minnesota played pretty well. It’s tough (for Dallas). Two years in a row you don’t get to the fun part of the season. They had a great first half of the year and that’s what’s disappointing for them, too. They were playing well and buying into the Crawford deal and then the bottom fell out. I don’t know what happened there.”

And the Wings spoke at length to Hedger about their hopes for Johan Franzen:

“Obviously he had a real good start to the season and it didn’t go as good for him here at the end, but the good thing about ‘The Mule,’ is that he seems to kick it into gear at this time of year,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a big body and can shoot the puck. He loves to score goals and he’s very capable.”

He’s also very important in Detroit’s quest to win a 12th Stanley Cup. Detroit might be in for a tough series against the Coyotes even if Franzen can find his scoring touch. If he can’t? That’s a thought most Red Wings fans don’t want to entertain. Detroit is already without leading points-scorer Henrik Zetterberg (lower body injury) for Game 1—if not longer. If Franzen’s dry spell continues, it could put even more pressure on other forwards to compensate. Franzen’s playoff history, however, suggests scoring won’t be a problem. He’s scored six goals and 18 points in his last 12 playoff games and has a sterling postseason resume that he’s looking to pad.

“We know he’s going to show up for us in the playoffs,” Tomas Holmstrom said. “Even if he doesn’t score goals, he’s doing a good job out there. He can still have good games by not scoring goals. Yes we need to win games, but it doesn’t matter who scores the goals—as long as you win the games.”
...
“He’s got a great shot,” Holmstrom said. “Maybe he needs to get in that playoff mode and he’ll start shooting the puck more.”

Franzen refused to play the media’s game regarding picking on his goal-scoring issues…

“I don’t worry about it,” he said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “We’ve got 20 other guys that can score, so why bother? It’s one of those games where everything comes to you. I didn’t read anything into that (five-goal) game. Just a lucky game. It just happened.”
...
“The whole team is stepping it up and taking it to the next level and the games are tighter (in the playoffs),” said Franzen, who will play on Detroit’s top line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom. “It’s intense out there and I thrive on that. I think the team does, as well. We play better and I play better.”

Update #9: Via the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff:

Tuesday, Detroit Red Wings centre Mike Modano strongly suggested he’d retire at the end of the season. Wednesday, perhaps a window into that decision was opened. Wings coach Mike Babcock announced that Modano, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer among U.S.-born players, would be a healthy scratch for Game 1 of Detroit’s Stanley Western Conference quarter-final series with the Phoenix Coyotes later in the day at Joe Louis Arena.

“I talked to Mike and he explained it to me,” Modano said. “I totally understand it. It’s up to me now if I get the opportunity to give him a reason not to take me back out.’‘

Babcock admitted it wasn’t a choice he arrived at easily. “It’s a huge decision,” Babcock said. “We brought him here for this. He’s out of Game 1, he’s got to get himself ready for Game 2. I imagine it was very tough for Mike. It wasn’t easy for myself or the coaches to make this decision, either. It’s about the Red Wings and we’re going to do whatever we can to help ourselves win.’‘

Modano, 40, who missed most the season when a skate severed tendons in his right hand, suggested his recovery from that ailment has been a slow process. “The body doesn’t respond to things as well,” he said. “Then the mind slowly gets into the equation. It’s something you try to fight. I’ve fought it all season long, hang in there for a little longer and take it day to day. Hopefully something excited and fun will be end of this. The last few games I felt real good. That’s a good sign.’‘

Detroit got some good news when it was determined after the morning skate that defenceman Niklas Kronwall, believed to be battling a shoulder injury, would be able to go in Game 1. Defenceman Jakub Kindl will be Detroit’s other healthy scratch.

Update #10: One more thing: I’ve found that Darren Pang is downright vicious at times when it comes to cranking up scuttlebutt, and he’s prognosticating Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

Maybe this is what happens when you announce your retirement before the playoffs even start…...

Posted by the dude from detroit on 04/13/11 at 01:17 PM ET

Zaze's avatar

Good call.  Phx will be coming out hitting, we need all the speed and grit we can get tonight until phx shows their cards.  Glad kronners back.

Posted by Zaze on 04/13/11 at 01:26 PM ET

miscotty's avatar

Seriously. This is a good move. Miller’s energy is going to be needed out there and he fits in that line much better. Modano and Hudler just did not work well. Now, if those two can get Fil going….

Still, did anyone else kinda think that Kindl was going to get the nod? I sort of thought Rusty had a hard time dealing with the pressure of having to compete for his job, while Kindl stepped it up.

Posted by miscotty on 04/13/11 at 01:38 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

As much as I hate to say it, because Big Rig had the potential to be a real Bill Brasky, Kindl really has earned it… seems like he should be out there. Ericsson and Rafalski have been awful together, both are too prone to turnovers. So maybe if they revert to the pre-2010 pairings, it would be better:

Lidstrom/Rafalski
Stuart/Kronwall
Ericsson/Salei

I know Babcock likes having a more physical D on each pairing, but Lidstrom’s so good that it’s irrelevant if his pairing has a physical player or not.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 04/13/11 at 01:44 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Modano will get in games… but how do you keep any one of Eaves, Miller, Draper, or Abdelkader out of the lineup? Other than Darren Helm, those are your four best forwards since March 1st.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 04/13/11 at 01:46 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I think Uncle Mike absolutely made the right decision about the offensive lines (I’m assuming if Hank were healthy, he’d be on line 1 and Franzen would be on line 2 and Who?dler’s butt would be on the bench). 

I don’t know if it had anything to do with Modano’s retirement announcement that he is the healthy scratch, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  We need players tonight who are ready to bring energy and commitment.

Now as for the defense, I would really love to hear some explanation for not reuniting Lidstrom and Rafalski, Kronwall and Stuart.  But in Babcock I trust. 

I like Kindl, but it looks to me like Uncle Mike went with maturity and experience tonight in picking Rusty.  Rusty was playing extremely well most of the year, and I think getting the nod tonight may give him his mo jo back.

Are there really SIX more hours before we get this thing going?

LET’S GO RED WINGS !!!!!

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/13/11 at 02:07 PM ET

perfection's avatar

it is a tough call because as many pointed out yesterday, the “win won for Mo” thing might be enough to push us over the edge. with that said, Mikey Mo is probably not the only Wing retiring after this playoff. While nothing has been said yet, the math seems to add up to this being Kris Draper’s last season. Unless of course he’s willing to sign a two-way and spend most of the season with the griffins next year much like the offer given to Maltby (an offer which I think would also be considered and dismissed much like Maltby). I think Draper has quietly had his best season in probably 3 or 4 years, all while being rotated in and out of the lineup. His faceoff touch is back and it just seems like Modano, cup-starved or not, just hasn’t earned a spot over Drapes (who, lets face it, also brings an invaluable cache of playoff experience and intangible leadership).

With that said, if we are going to make a run for the next 8 weeks, we are almost certainly going to suffer injuries up front (ahem… Clears and Homer… I’m looking at you, you kamikaze psycho bastards) and Modano better be ready. He still could be a difference maker, but I think scratching him tonight is the right decision.

But, as far as defense is concerned, I think that Kindl has outplayed Salei consistently since Salei’s paternity leave. Babcock made the competition for the 6th spot a public matter and I thought Kindl played better since that point. I know some folks around here made the point that Salei can play a more physical game, but I don’t really think Pheonix is all that physically imposing. Nashville? Ok, maybe, but Pheonix is more about playing a rigid defensive system and counting on their goalie to steal a game or two. Which brings me back to Kindl. I think offense is what we need most this series. Bryz is hard to beat and the Coyotes just aren’t all that much of an offensive threat relatively. I realize they are a team that waits for their opponent to make mistakes, something Kindl can obviously do once in a while, but Salei was a turnover machine last game against Chicago and I’d like to think that while we’re playing at home, our 5th and 6th d-pair won’t be facing Pheonix’s top threats all that often anyway. So the risk really seems minimal to me. I know Kindl isn’t some offensive machine, but he’s a puck mover and getting through the neutral zone is going to be the toughest/most important element of our offense. Whether we have to skate into the o-zone or dump and chase, none of that matters without that first pass out of our zone, something Kindl is clearly better at than Salei.

But I understand Babs likes to rely on experience in these kinds of situations and that the 6th d spot was Salei’s to lose. But I will bet that we see Kindl at some point. Perhaps even after our first loss… which hopefully won’t even be in this round.

Wouldn’t that be nice… if we could get the old brooms out early on. I’m sure Hank would appreciate that.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/13/11 at 02:16 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Bullshit.  If I were there, I’d kick him in the ass.

Get your head in the right place, Mo.  We got a Cup to win.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 04/13/11 at 03:03 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.