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Sharks minus Clowe for Game 6 against Wings

by Dave Lozo /
DETROIT -- San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, who leads the team in playoff points with 13, will not play against the Red Wings in Game 6 of their Western Conference Semifinal series on Tuesday night.

Coach Todd McLellan announced Tuesday morning that Clowe is dealing with an upper-body injury and did not make the trip to Detroit with the team.

"It puts a little more pressure on other players," McLellan said. "He's obviously an important guy to our hockey club. It's not about the ones that are out of the lineup. It's about the ones that are in."

Clowe was hit hard by Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall during Game 5, but did not leave the game due to injury. Clowe was on the ice for the final 1:20 as the Sharks pressed for the tying goal before falling 4-3.

McLellan said the injury had nothing to do with the hit and believes Clowe could be available for a Game 7 or in the next round should the Sharks advance. Clowe has 6 assists against the Red Wings in this Western Conference Semifinal series, which the Sharks lead 3-2.

When asked if Clowe's injury potentially happened off the ice, McLellan responded, "Unless his wife slashed him at home, it happened during the game."

"During the course of a year, you're going to have a guy that's out," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "Different guys have to step up. That's been the case all year. I wouldn't expect anything different from us tonight. Guys just have to pick up the slack for Clowe."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't aware of Clowe's absence until he was asked about it. Babcock said it wouldn't change anything his team does in terms of preparation or scheme.

"The great thing about this time of year is it's them and us, and it doesn't matter if it's Thornton or Clowe or (Devin) Setoguchi. It's a team game," Babcock said. "They've got a good team."

McLellan said he hasn't decided who will take Clowe's spot in the lineup, but Ben Eager or Jamal Mayers could dress in his place. Eager said he didn't know if he'd be in the lineup following practice.

The Sharks did not do line rushes during their morning practice at Joe Louis Arena, so it's tough to say how McLellan will restructure his lines. Clowe has been the left wing on a line with center Logan Couture and right wing Dany Heatley for a better part of the season, and their chemistry together has developed because of that familiarity.

"Your guess is as good as mine what the lines will be or who I'll be playing with," Couture said. "I don't know if I'm playing center or playing wing. I don't know what the lines are yet."

Couture and Thornton said no matter how the lineup is shuffled, it shouldn't affect chemistry all that much because everyone has played with just about everyone on this team at some point.

"I've played with a lot of guys," Thornton said. "Tonight, once we hit the ice, nobody is going to say I have no chemistry with this guy, because we play with each other quite a bit this year. No excuses."

"I've said this a million times -- I've played with everyone on this team at least once during a game," Couture said. "You have to get some chemistry quick because it's Game 6 and they're going to be hungry in their own building."

It's possible Benn Ferriero, who scored the OT winner in Game 1 of this series, could be placed on Couture's line. Ferriero played extensively with Couture when they were together at Worcester, the Sharks' AHL affiliate.

"Benny and I played together a lot last year and this year too," Couture said. "I've played with everyone. Wherever I am tonight, I'll feel comfortable."

Line matchups have been a big part of this series. The Red Wings used Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line for Games 1 and 2 before breaking them up for Game 3. But Datsyuk and Zetterberg have been reunited at times in the past two games. McLellan said that won't have any bearing on how he constructs his forward alignment Tuesday night.

"Both teams have been able to adjust lines as it goes along," McLellan said. "We saw Pavel and Hank together, we saw them apart. Regardless, they're both dangerous and both committed to winning. We have to understand that and have to be prepared to play against them one way or the other."

Joe Pavelski, who has centered Kyle Wellwood and Torrey Mitchell for most of the season, said the loss of Clowe will also be felt in the dressing room in terms of leadership and fire.

"He brings a lot of emotion to the game and to the locker room, too," Pavelski said. "He's definitely a fun player to have on the ice and off the ice because you know his heart's in the right spot and he's going to play."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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