-- The Detroit Red Wings
will have a different look Friday night -- one they surely weren't planning on having.
No. 1 center Pavel Datsyuk
wasn't in the liineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks
at the United Center (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). Datsyuk took a shot on the foot in Game 2 that he managed to play through, but he did not participate in Friday morning's skate and didn't dress for the game. Ville Leino
, a 25-year-old rookie, took his place in the lineup.
While Datsyuk has only one goal this postseason, his contributions on both ends of the ice play a huge role in Detroit's success. The 30-year-old had 32 goals and 65 assists during the regular season.
"Well, he is in the running for the Hart," coach Mike Babcock said. "He's a heck of a player, obviously. He's got two assists in this series, but more important he's a player on their bench that you've got to be aware of all the time. It makes their matchups tonight easier because maybe you don't have as many weapons. But it's a good opportunity for our other guys to step up."
That includes Valtteri Filppula
, who stepped up to center the top line with Marian Hossa
and Tomas Holmstrom
if Datsyuk is unable to play in Game 3. Babcock is confident that the 25-year-old is up to the challenge.
"For Filppula, it's prime time," Babcock said. "I think it's a great opportunity in a good building against a good team. It should be a lot of fun for him. Don't get me wrong … we'd love to have Pav. But I think each and every year in the playoffs, you have to overcome some things. We have to overcome this, obviously."
Detroit has already overcome plenty in these playoffs, having lost defenseman Brian Rafalski
for the first five games of its Round 2 win against the Anaheim Ducks
. They've also managed to overcome Datsyuk's inability to find the net, as No. 13 hasn't scored since Game 2 of the Wings' opening-round series win against the Columbus Blue Jackets
back on April 18.
"He does a lot of things for this team besides just scoring goals," said veteran forward Kris Draper
, who returned from an upper-body injury for Game 7 against Anaheim. "Holmer and Hossa have had some great chances, it just hasn’t been going in. But they do a lot of great things for this team. If Pav can't play, then different guys have to step up in different situations. That's what happens at this time of year."
Hossa said he was eager to see what he can do on a line with Filppula after going without a goal in his last five games.
"Fil is a really good skater," Hossa said. "He can hold on to the puck and he can give it to you easily. He's a really smart player."
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.