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Red Wings' Datsyuk day-to-day with knee issue

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard will get the start against New Jersey Devils veteran Martin Brodeur on Tuesday in a battle of teams jockeying for playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Howard, who is 1-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in two career starts against the Devils, will have to be at his best with forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Stephen Weiss, and defenseman Jakub Kindl, all sidelined by injury. Zetterberg had back surgery on Feb. 21 and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.

Datsyuk sustained a lower-body injury in the first period of a victory against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. He told reporters Monday that he's dealing with an "issue with my knee and looking day-to-day."

Joakim Andersson will take Datsyuk's spot on the top line, centering Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen.

"This is what we got," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That's just the way it's gone this year. We've been fortunate that [Darren] Helm is back and playing well, Riley Sheahan looks to be a really good player in the League, [Gustav] Nyquist has played really well for us and so has Luke Glendening. So when you go through the whole thing, lots of players are contributing who we think are good players."

Howard, who is 13-13-9 with a 2.60 GAA and .914 save percentage in 35 games this season, was asked his thoughts on possibly being the last goalie to face Brodeur in a Devils jersey. The NHL Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET and it has been speculated the 41-year-old likely Hall of Fame member might be dealt after the game.

"I grew up a Rangers fan and watched Marty a lot, tuning into MSG when they played the Rangers since the rivalry was so good," Howard, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., told "I'm sure it wasn't a good memory for Marty, but for me, when Stephane Matteau scored the overtime winner [in the 1994 Eastern Conference Final] was one of my best memories. But Marty has certainly won his fair share of Stanley Cup crowns."

Howard acknowledged it is strange to think Brodeur could actually wear another jersey other than that of the Devils.

"When you think of the New Jersey Devils, you think Marty Brodeur," Howard said. "He's one of the best goalies to ever play the game. He holds records in every category, and it's not too often you get someone like that to come through the NHL. It's just an honor to get to play against him."

Here are the possible line combinations for the Red Wings against the Devils:

Gustav Nyquist - Joakim Andersson - Johan Franzen

Justin Abdelkader - Darren Helm - Daniel Alfredsson

Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Todd Bertuzzi

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Brian Lashoff - Brendan Smith

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Patrick Eaves

Injured: Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), Henrik Zetterberg (back) Jakub Kindl (lower body), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Daniel Cleary (knee)

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