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Draper to miss Games 1 and 2 vs. Ducks

by Brian Compton
DETROITKris Draper lives for this time of year.

Unfortunately, the Detroit Red Wings' veteran forward has yet to experience the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs -- and he'll keep sitting, at least the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Draper, who has been with the club for 15 years, will miss Games 1 and 2 against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena due to an upper-body injury. Draper missed his team's four-game sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets due to the same ailment.

 "This is when everyone wants to play," said Draper, who had 17 points in 79 games during the regular season. "It's tough."

While it has been reported that Draper is suffering from an upper-body injury, the veteran center -- who will turn 38 on May 24 -- refused to be more specific about the cause of his absence.

"I'd rather not, just for my sake," he said Thursday. "It's tough. I would like to say what it is, but just to protect myself, I'm just going to say that I'm out (Games) 1 and 2 and get it re-evaluated and go from there."

Games 1 and 2 against the Ducks will be played on Friday and Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. The teams then will board a plane for Anaheim for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday next week. Draper intends to join the team to Southern California, where he hopes to be cleared to play for the first time this postseason.

"No matter what, I'm going out there," Draper insisted. "Hopefully in these four days I get better news and go from there."

Draper was hoping to receive the OK from team physicians on Thursday morning, but he learned after the skate that he wasn't ready to go. However, Draper is confident that he will be in the lineup before this second-round series concludes.

"There was improvement from the last time I went (to the doctor)," Draper said. "They're positive that the healing is under way, but not to the extent where they were satisfied enough to clear me."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock is disappointed that Draper is still unable to play, but he's pleased with the way the veteran center has been helping younger players such as Darren Helm prepare.

"We haven't had him in the playoffs," Babcock said. "Obviously for Drapes, it's a down day for him. We'll give him 15 minutes to be down and then he's got to bring his energy to the rink tomorrow. He's a real professional."
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