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Holmstrom plans on setting up shop like usual

by Kevin Woodley /
VANCOUVER -- Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom will play Thursday night after missing one game with swollen knees, and plans to go straight to his usual spot in front of Vancouver's net. The 39-year-old isn't worried about his health.

The knees are a long way from the heart.

"I play my game, I like the game I play, and it's a good spot to be, the puck is going to be there sooner or later," Holmstrom, who didn't play in Calgary on Tuesday and was hobbling around with ice on his knees, told “I never think about if I take a beating.”

Holmstrom has taken plenty of pounding during 14 NHL seasons establishing himself as the League's best net-front presence. He's a fourth liner now, but remains invaluable on the first power-play unit, screening opposing goalies and scoring on tips and rebounds.

For Holmstrom, it's an easier job now -- even at his age -- then when he first started.

"After the lockout it seems like you can get to the net much easier, you can't do the cross checking before you get to the net, but when the puck comes there, hell still breaks loose," he said with a smile. "But back then you got three cross checks to the neck before you get to the paint, and then you get cross-checked again. So it's a huge difference."

Detroit was 0-for-3 on the power play without Holmstrom against the Flames, though his replacement, Jan Mursak, who will come out of the lineup against the Canucks on Thursday, did set up a goal in just 7:32 of ice time on the fourth line.

Here are the rest of the expected lineups and changes for the Red Wings and Canucks:
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

There is one change on defense as well, with Jakub Kindl replacing Mike Commodore on the third pairing, ending a run of four-straight starts for the latter.

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard, who was given a day off Wednesday and, along with fellow All Star Pavel Datsyuk, ordered to stay away from the rink entirely, makes his sixth-straight start while Ty Conklin backs up.
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Mason Raymond - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Keith Ballard - Aaron Rome

As the Canucks wrap up a six-game homestand broken up by the All-Star break, the only change is in goal, where Roberto Luongo returns after watching Cory Schneider's often-spectacular 37-save effort in a 3-2 overtime win over Chicago on Tuesday.

The win included a highlight-reel diving save to take away an empty net after he gave the puck away behind his own net, prompting Luongo to joke about trying to top his partner with a "backhand sauce up the middle and then dive back to see if I can get it."

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