Red Wings Notebook: Injuries, illness taking toll, but Datsyuk returns to the lineup
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DETROIT-- Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk wasn't the only Red Wings player who was limited in Game 5 against the Penguins last night at Joe Louis Arena. Winger Daniel Cleary played despite an unspecified injury.
Rookie forward Justin Abdelkader -- who is battling flu-like symptoms, coach Mike Babcock said -- and rookie forward Ville Leino were scratched.
Datsyuk played for the first time since May 19, a total of nine games, although his injured foot was not back to normal.
"A lot of times, it doesn't matter if you're healthy or not," Datsyuk said after participating in the morning skate. "I think everybody is playing like that."
Datsyuk, the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin and Washington's Alex Ovechkin are the three finalists for league MVP.
Cleary opted out of the morning skate and told the Detroit Free Press it was a lower-body injury that required him to make a game-time decision on whether to play. He skated with Detroit in the pregame warmup.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski skipped the morning skate for unspecified reasons but played.
Babcock has been fairly straightforward about who might be playing and who might be out, but he figures in the long run it's a moot point because everyone will remember which team won the Stanley Cup and no one will remember much about injuries and lineup changes.
"I've said this many times during the playoff run: The greatest thing about this trophy is how hard it is [to win]. And when you have injuries, it's harder. Suck it up and find a way to win. Who cares? No one cares except about the team who wins in the end," he said.
"You get your name on that thing, it's the greatest summer of your life. That's still our plan."
It's no secret Babcock didn't like the fact the final started with games on back-to-back nights, even if the Red Wings swept those first two games.
In general, though, he prefers the NHL's playoff format of 2-2-1-1-1 over a 2-3-2 setup. The latter schedule sometimes is easier for teams with less travel between cities, but Babcock said that hasn't been a problem with the two cities less than an hour apart by air.
"I like the way the schedule's set up," Babcock said. "I think when you're like Pittsburgh and us and you're so close, it's been really easy that way travel-wise. You know, even on an off day they're going to be at their place, we're going to be here."
Veterans who are out of the lineup have been doing more than working out or rehabilitating injuries. They have been working with the young players.
"When you talk about leadership, [Kris] Draper's been working with [rookies Darren Helm and Abdelkader] every day since they've been here," Babcock said. "That's a big part of what we do here, passing it on."
Draper, who has missed 15 games this postseason because of two separate injuries, was more than happy to help the rookies.
"I talked to [Abdelkader] and [Helm] on game day and [asked] if they needed anything clarified, any questions that I had, if I could help them," he said.
Defenseman Chris Chelios, the old man of the league at 47, has played in six playoff games this year but has kept busy in other ways.
"Chelios really helped [defenseman] Brett Lebda when he came into the league, and helped [defensemen Derek] Meech and [rookie Jonathan] Ericsson," Babcock said. "Earlier in the playoffs, for example, Ericsson was getting himself run. And I said, 'Cheli I just want you to talk to him about the situation, getting the guy on your back and showing him.' It's better than me doing it."
First Published June 7, 2009 12:00 am