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Datsyuk skips Thursday practice with injury

by John McGourty /
DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings top center Pavel Datsyuk, the NHL's fourth-leading scorer in the regular season and a Hart Trophy finalist, did not practice with his team Thursday.

Datsyuk was struck in the leg by a shot during the Wings' 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked if Datsyuk, who was unavailable for comment, will play Friday night in Chicago.

"We sure think so," Babcock said. "But it's day-to-day. He got a rocket off the foot the other day. You go from there and you see what happens."

With Datsyuk out, Valtteri Filppula moved up to center a line with Tomas Holmstrom on the left and Marian Hossa on the right side. Other lines saw Henrik Zetterberg between Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary; Darren Helm centering the third line with Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson; the fourth line featured Kris Draper playing with an array of linemates -- Derek Meech, Justin Abdelkader, Kirk Maltby and Ville Leino.

Babcock wouldn't say if the top three lines on the ice Thursday would be kept together for Game 3 on Friday if Datsyuk couldn't play.

"I didn't get that far," he said. "I moved it like that for a reason, I guess. The good thing about that is I've got another night's sleep if that (Datsyuk not playing) is still the case. And then I'll decide after the skate (in Chicago Friday morning). We'll see what happens after the skate."

Datsyuk's absence would be a significant loss for the Wings. Datsyuk led Detroit this season with 65 assists and 97 points, and trailed only Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in regular-season scoring.

Filppula said Babcock put him on the top line but didn't tell him anything about Datsyuk or whether he'd be playing with Holmstrom and Hossa on Friday.

"I don't know right now," Filppula said. "We'll have to see tomorrow at the pre-game skate. I don't think my role will change a lot. I'll try to play the same way that I've been playing, whatever line I've been on."

Babcock is a frequent line-scrambler so most of the Detroit forwards have played together at some point this season.

"Most of the offensive players have seen each other before and the same thing with the defense," Filppula said. "That's always a good thing. You need to switch the lines a bit so no one is a stranger."

Detroit Red Wings Playoff GearHealthy or not, a change in the Datsyuk-Holmstrom-Hossa trio might have come anyway. Datsyuk hasn't scored in 11 games, and has just 1 goal and 7 points in 13 playoff games. Hossa has only 1 point in the past five games and has scored in only two of the past 13 games. Holmstrom has no points in the past nine games.

A change might do them good. Filppula will be looking to set up Hossa, if he gets the chance.

"Hopefully it works," Filppula said. "He's a great player with a great shot and he scores. My job is trying to get the puck to him and his job is to shoot it. If we play together tomorrow, I hope it works."

"We played a few games during the regular season," Hossa said of playing with Filppula. "I played with him a little bit in the Anaheim series. He's a fast player who can make plays. He gives you the puck and he's a strong skater."
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