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Holmstrom likely a game-time decision

by Brian Compton

Tomas Holmstrom did not skate with the Red Wings Friday afternoon due to a collision with Penguins defenseman Hal Gill late in the third period of Wednesday night's 3-2 loss.   Holmstrom discusses his injury
PITTSBURGH -- If the Detroit Red Wings plan on taking a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio), they may have to do it without the services of Tomas Holmstrom.

The power forward did not skate with the team Friday afternoon at Mellon Arena due to a collision with Penguins defenseman Hal Gill late in the third period of Wednesday night's 3-2 loss.

Holmstrom spoke briefly with reporters Friday and said he felt better than he did on Thursday. It is very possible that the 35-year-old will be a game time decision.

While he did not divulge what type of injury he suffered, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said it was a hamstring.

"He's got a little problem there," Babcock said. "We think he'll be fine. He's a tough guy."

Others, though, weren't as optimistic.

"We just want to go out play hard," veteran forward Kris Draper said. "Hopefully we see him, but it doesn't sound like it. We've played without star players before here."

Indeed they haven't, as forward Johan Franzen missed the last five games of the Western Conference Finals and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final due to concussion-like symptoms. Franzen looked awfully sharp on Wednesday night and picked up his 13th goal of the playoffs.

Should Holmstrom not be able to play, the Red Wings admitted it will be an all-hands-on-deck approach as far as crashing the net. Holmstrom has played a huge role in front of the net this postseason.

"I think everybody can get to the net," said Daniel Cleary, who would skate with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in Holmstrom's absence. "We've got to get shots and traffic. That's how you wear goalies down. Tommy's so good at getting to the net, especially on the power play. He really creates a lot of traffic. We have to make sure we get there."

While Babcock is under the impression that Holmstrom will be able to play, he's confident that the depth the Wings possess is capable of getting the job done. He quickly pointed to Detroit's ability to get past the Dallas Stars in Round 3 without the services of Franzen, who scored two hat tricks in the second round against the Colorado Avalanche.

Should Holmstrom be unable to play, Darren McCarty would be re-inserted into the lineup. McCarty dressed for Game 1, but has been a healthy scratch since Franzen's return.

"We just move people around," Babcock said. "That's what being on a team's all about. You have to pick one another up when someone goes down. When 'The Mule' went down, we found a way."

Clearly, Holmstrom's biggest asset is his ability to stand in front of the net and create screens on the man advantage. Without him, the Red Wings will need others to find ways to get to the net and look for rebounds.

"I think the big thing with Holmer is his presence on the power play," Draper said. "He has a great net presence. The one thing he does is he gets a lot of second and third opportunities. That's key."

Battling through injury woes is nothing new to the Red Wings. They lost practically their entire group of defenseman during the second half of the regular season, but held off the San Jose Sharks to win the Western Conference and the Presidents' Trophy.

Cleary believes the adversity Detroit faced this time around has benefited the club during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I do believe adversity makes you a better team," Cleary said. "I can go back each year that I've been here. Our first year, we rolled through the season. Our second year, we pretty much rolled through the season. I really thought this year we faced good adversity. It helped us prepare by losing guys. Different guys stepped up. It gives players confidence. We've got good depth top to bottom."

With only up to four more games possible in this hockey season, Holmstrom certainly isn't the only player attempting to play through an injury. Babcock correctly pointed to the fact that winning a championship comes through sacrifice.

"These things just happen in the playoffs," Babcock said. "There's a whole bunch of guys that people in this room don't know about on both teams that are hurt, too. That's just the way it is. You just find a way to keep playing and the mind drives the body."

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