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Red Wings' Zidlicky out for Game 7 vs. Lightning

by Arpon Basu / NHL.com

TAMPA -- The Detroit Red Wings enter their biggest game of the season severely shorthanded on defense.

Red Wings defenseman Marek Zidlicky has an undisclosed injury and will not play Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports 2, FS-D, SUN), coach Mike Babcock said.

Zidlicky's absence leaves the Red Wings without two of their top six defensemen. Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Red Wings with an average of 23:35 of ice time per game, was suspended for the game Tuesday by the NHL Department of Player Safety for a charging incident during Game 6.

Kronwall will be replaced by Alexey Marchenko on the top pairing with Jonathan Ericsson, and Jakub Kindl will play in Zidlicky's spot next to Brendan Smith.

Babcock's confidence for winning Game 7 did not appear to be affected Wednesday, and he expressed how eager he was to return to the city where he attended McGill University to face the Montreal Canadiens in the second round.

"I expect them to play good; they're Red Wings," Babcock said of Kindl and Marchenko. "I expect us to come here and enjoy being in the atmosphere, enjoy being in Game 7 and get ourselves a win. There's a deli called Schwartz's in Montreal I'm dying to have a sandwich from."

Zidlicky has eight shots on goal while averaging 15:16 of ice time per game; of that he's averaged 3:16 of ice time on the power play, second among Detroit defenseman to Kronwall's 3:42.

Babcock said the presence of Danny DeKeyser on the back end mitigates the loss of Zidlicky on the power play.

"We're not concerned about that at all," Babcock said. "[DeKeyser] might be the best guy picking the puck up on the breakout on the team. He really can swing it from one side to the other. Kindl when he was in our lineup always played on the second power play. We're not concerned about that."

Marchenko, 23, played the first two games of the series while Smith sat out as a scratch and was minus-3 while playing 17:50 in a 3-2 Game 1 win and 19:35 in a 5-1 Game 2 loss. They were the first two games he's played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We all have to play our best here," Ericsson said. "We're missing [Kronwall], he's our No. 1 matchup [defenseman]. [Marchenko] has to try to fill his shoes. He's definitely going to fill them literally, but on the ice we have to be at the top of our game."

Kindl, 28, has not played a game in the series after he had 13 points in 35 regular-season games. It will be his 19 Stanley Cup Playoff game, but getting dropped into Game 7 under these circumstances will be difficult.

"We won't be shorthanded; we'll have a full squad out there," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "But we've just got to play solid, execute, keep it tight in the neutral zone, get through the neutral zone and spend as much time as we can in their end. [Kindl], the last couple of games he played, he played really good. He's been looking good in practice so he's ready to go. Marchenko, he's a good defenseman, a solid defenseman, and he plays well when he plays. So we've just got to go out and play a good, solid hockey game. If we do that we have a good chance."

Here are the projected lineups:

RED WINGS

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Joakim Andersson - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Landon Ferraro

Jonathan Ericsson - Alexey Marchenko

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith - Jakub Kindl

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Injured: Erik Cole (spinal contusion), Johan Franzen (concussion), Marek Zidlicky (undisclosed)

Suspended: Niklas Kronwall

Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Stephen Weiss

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Nikita Kucherov - Tyler Johnson - Ondrej Palat

Vladislav Namestnikov - Valtteri Filppula - Cedric Paquette

Brian Boyle - Brenden Morrow

Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr

Anton Stralman - Jason Garrison

Braydon Coburn - Matt Carle

Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, J.T. Brown, Jonathan Drouin

Status report: Babcock confirmed that the group of forwards would not change from Game 6 but that the combinations might. "Same players," Babcock said when asked if there will be changes up front.

Who's hot: Mrazek allowed four goals on 27 shots in Game 6 but he was outstanding in limiting the damage in a 5-2 loss. … Tatar scored both Red Wings goals in Game 6.

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