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Red Wings' Kronwall confident he'll play next round

by Arpon Basu /

TAMPA -- When the Detroit Red Wings took the ice for their morning skate Wednesday to prepare to play Game 7 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports 2, FS-D, SUN), there was a familiar face among them.

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall took part in the skate with his teammates even though he was suspended for Game 7 on Tuesday by the NHL Department of Player Safety for a charging incident with Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov during Game 6 on Monday.

Kronwall's presence on the ice Wednesday spoke to his confidence in his teammates to win the game and give him a chance to face the Montreal Canadiens in the second round starting Friday.

"I'm looking forward for a game on Friday," Kronwall said when asked why he skated Wednesday. "So I'm trying to do everything I can to prepare myself for that."

Kronwall learned Tuesday of the suspension. It is the first suspension or fine of his 11-season NHL career.

"Obviously not one of the best moments in my life," he said. "But there's not much I can do really."

Kronwall was suspended for hitting Kucherov as he exited the Lightning zone with the puck near the blue line up the right wing, or Kronwall's side of the ice. The NHL decision stated he launched himself into the hit and made significant contact with Kucherov's head, but Kronwall did not see it the same way.

He said he did not feel he traveled very far to deliver the hit and that he did not have both skates off the ice before contact.

"I disagree with the decision," he said. "I feel like it happened a little bit different way than what they feel. But that's how it is. I did something to put them in a situation where they can make the final call. So any way you look at it, that's on me."

Kronwall said he hasn't slept very well the past two nights and that he has not fully grasped the reality that he will not play in Game 7. When asked if he had thought of what it will be like to watch the game instead of play, he paused and said he hadn't.

"I've got to stay positive around here," Kronwall said. "I can't be walking around moping, feeling sorry for myself. That's not going to benefit anybody. I've got to try to do my best and stay positive and give energy to the guys instead of draining them."

Even though he disagrees with the decision, Kronwall did express regret for what happened and reiterated his confidence that the Red Wings will give him another chance to play in the playoffs.

"The decision was based on something I did on the ice," he said. "Of course you'd like to take that back. But what's done has been done. Now we've got to look forward. We have a game tonight. [I'm] supporting the guys and we're going to win this one tonight."

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