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Draper will return to Wings' lineup in Game 4

by Mike G. Morreale
PITTSBURGH -- Detroit Red Wings center Kris Draper has been chomping at the bit to return to the lineup, and he'll get that chance Thursday in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

It's still unknown who Draper will replace in the lineup. He's played just four games this postseason and has missed the last five -- including Games 2 and 3 of the Cup Final as a healthy scratch after recovering from a groin injury that forced him out of Game 1.

"I can tell you that Draper is in, but I don't know who's out," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Thursday morning.

The likely scenario would have Draper replacing Justin Abdelkader, who has performed admirably in the postseason with two goals and three points in 10 games.

"All I wanted to do when I got injured again was to get back to the point where I could play as quick as possible," Draper said following the morning skate. "I had a talk with Babs and just told him what was on my mind. I respect everything that goes on within this locker room. This is not the time to be selfish. All I wanted to do was help the guys as much as possible, including Abby (Abdelkader) and Helmer (Darren Helm). I talked to both on them on game days and tried to clarify anything they questioned. I wanted to help and be positive influence."

Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Final Gear Draper, who does his best work as a checker and in the faceoff circle, has 23 goals and 44 points in 198 career playoff games.

"Did I want to play? Absolutely," Draper said. "It burns not to play, but that's just me. I was doing everything I could to be a positive influence around the guys. It's been frustrating because I haven't been able to be healthy from start of playoffs to end of the playoffs. Now that I have a chance for Game 4, I'm thrilled about the opportunity."

Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby knows the importance of Draper in the faceoff circle. Draper led Detroit with a 60.3 winning percentage on faceoffs during the regular season.

"A lot of experience helps," Crosby said. "He's been doing it for a long time. It's something that he has really focused on. They work on it year after year and they get good at it. He takes it serious and works at it a lot."
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