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Rafalski likely to return in Game 6

Tuesday, 05.12.2009 / 4:09 PM / Conference Semifinals: Detroit vs. Anaheim

By Eric Stephens - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is likely to suit up tonight for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Anaheim Ducks after sitting out the first five games of the series because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Rafalski has not played since the series-clinching Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. The 35-year-old puck-moving defender, who normally plays on the top pairing with captain Nicklas Lidstrom, took part in his first full practice Monday.

"I think he's going to be in," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We'll see how he reacts. We think he's playing so we'll see."

Rafalski did not meet with the media Tuesday morning. In his second season with his hometown team, the Dearborn, Mich., native had 10 goals and 49 assists for a career-high 59 points in 78 games.

"Of course, he's going to give us a boost, especially on the power play," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We've been missing him a little bit there. Hopefully we can take advantage of him [being] back in the lineup.

"He's also got a great first pass and is very solid defensively, positioning-wise. We look forward to having him back and hopefully we can take advantage of his skills."

In the four-game sweep of the Blue Jackets, Rafalski had 1 goal and 2 assists along with a plus-5 rating.

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres